Senators receive update on student mental health

Senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger shared student mental health trends from fall semester at the Jan. 18 Faculty Senate meeting.

Students continue to struggle with mental health needs during the pandemic. For example, student inquiries with the office of student assistance increased by 43% last fall.

"Within the first six weeks of the fall 2021 semester we reached the total number of student hospitalizations that are typically seen in an entire year," said Younger of the mental health issue. "The complexity of issues staff sees from students requires that they take more time."

Food insecurity also continues to be an issue on campus with 31% of students acknowledging some hardship last fall, up from 24% spring semester. Multicultural students had even greater struggles, with 48% dealing with food insecurity.

Iowa State results from the National College Health Assessment Survey continue to be tabulated, but Younger shared three early results:

  • 41% of Iowa State participants in the survey reported not getting the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep at any point within the last two weeks
  • 20% were screened for serious psychological distress
  • 21% disagreed with the statement: "At my university, we are a campus where we look out for each other"

To help deal with some of the issues, student affairs launched the Cyclone Support campaign last fall. The positive response from students has led to it becoming permanent.

"This campaign promotes the use of on-campus student resources with an emphasis on self-help and online space," Younger said.

Many of the resources are self-guided to meet students where they are. One example is Therapy Assistance Online. It is a self-help tool managed by student counseling services and funded by Student Government.

Younger said resources also are provided for healthy sleep habits, financial help, meal planning and skill-building videos to manage anxiety and other concerns.

"Currently, we are seeing students looking for help online, and we want to be there for support," she said. "We hope this is a good first step for students who might need a bit more of a push toward the variety of on-campus services we have."

Request for faculty assistance

Younger outlined several steps faculty can take to help. Those include sharing the Cyclone Support website in class and syllabi to alert students to the campaign, encouraging students to use self-help resources on campus as a first step and continuing to create a community of care and inclusivity.

"I encourage faculty to reach out to staff in student affairs to get advice or answer any difficult questions as you navigate any difficult situations with students," she said. "This is truly a partnership."


Senators rejected an addition to the bylaws to clarify what should be included in the meeting minutes by a vote of 41-22. The proposal called for a concise record of what is done at a meeting, not a complete record of what is said during debate and discussion. It also would avoid attributions of statements made during debate or discussion.

Those against the change said at a public university, detailed minutes are needed to accurately reflect why senate decisions are made. Other senators were concerned about the timely availability of meeting transcripts or video recordings if detailed minutes were discontinued.

Committee chair

School of Education associate professor E.J. Bahng was named the chair of the U.S. diversity course requirement committee that began its work this semester. The permanent committee is responsible for approving courses proposed to satisfy the U.S. diversity requirement and is overseen by the academic affairs council.


Sarah Bennett-George, associate teaching professor in apparel, events and hospitality management, was voted the next president-elect. She will take office in May, when president Andrea Wheeler (architecture) passes the gavel to president-elect Jon Perkins (accounting).

Other business

  • Senators approved discontinuing the undergraduate interdisciplinary wind energy minor. No students are enrolled and none have graduated with the minor since it was added in 2013.
  • Senators will vote at their February meeting on a proposed change to the catalog in effect policy to clarify students can graduate under a catalog from the previous six years. The change would add a year due to students taking longer to graduate. The years a catalog can be chosen covers the period a student is enrolled at an accredited college or university, not just ISU.