STORY BY COLE NORUM
Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari used the beginning of his weekly administrative report to remind Student Senate about the pressures of finals.
Bakari said that an increased number of students are visiting the counseling center with a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety and depression.
“For some of our students, things aren’t just smooth sailing,” Bakari said.
Between 25 and 30 percent of students use some kind of commonly prescribed psychotropic medication, an umbrella term for medications used to treat depression and anxiety.
While some students are able to handle the stress, others struggle with the increased burdens at the end of the semester. More importantly, Bakari pointed out, they may not show it.
“You don’t necessarily see it visibly,” Bakari said. “We recognize that some of our students … are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety as we approach the end of the term, as we approach holidays, and as we approach how our grades are going to look.”
Bakari understood that many of the senators were familiar with the topic, but sought to reiterate to the elected representatives their responsibility of awareness and understanding.
“As leaders of the campus you should be aware of that, if you aren’t already,” Bakari said.
This includes reaching out to the University Counseling Center. Bakari called it an excellent source and reminded senators that Drake employs the services of a psychiatrist, an amenity many institutions lack.
“They do a really good job,” Bakari said.
Bakari continued his report with a notice of Drake’s monthly “town hall” meetings held by the President’s cabinet, an opportunity to glean insight on administrative and campus news and proceedings that he worried are being lost on students.
“I’m not sure if those messages are going to you (students),” Bakari said.
The previous night’s session, which took place in the same second floor Cowles Library reading room as Senate meetings, elaborated on enrollment statistics and the recently announced STEM initiative.
“It provides faculty and staff the opportunity to ask questions,” he said of the town hall meeting.
Bakari concluded his administrative report with an update on the search for a new associate dean. The position, left vacant when Ann Miller departed earlier this semester, includes Senate advisement.
“The Associate Dean search group will meet next week,” Bakari began. “And pick one.”
Bakari said, the group had been gathering feedback from parties involved in the process, including staff and students who sat in on even conducted interviews.
Bakari, who has assumed the role of interim Senate adviser, emphasized the need for continued discussion between the university’s many facets, especially during periods of transition and growth.
“As the institution experiences change,” Bakari said, “one of the best ways to facilitate and manage that is ongoing communication.”