Dear Chatham Community,
Yesterday an article was published on PublicSource.org by a recent Chatham graduate and Public Source intern that focused on self-injury policies and procedures at Chatham and other universities.
Due to the nature of the article, which involved three former Chatham students (whose names were changed for the article), Chatham chose not to comment in specifics in order to respect and comply with privacy requirements for these and other students at Chatham. After reviewing the article, the University believes that it contains information that has been taken out-of-context and mischaracterizes the environment at Chatham.
Mental health is an issue of great importance to me and to all of Chatham, including the staff and faculty across the University dedicated to our students’ safety and well-being. Our priority is, and continues to be, ensuring students get the help they need in a supportive and caring environment when dealing with self-injury and mental illness. Most importantly, I want to stress for those students who are dealing with mental health issues, please know that our Counseling Services department and response team are here to support and help you, not to discipline you. I hope that you will reach out to them at any time you feel the need.
In support of this priority, I have asked today for the creation of a task force to undertake a review of our current policy language and procedures to identify if there are areas where we can improve. The task force will include:
- Deanna Hamilton, Assistant Professor in our Counseling Psychology Department;
- Sharon Novalis, Assistant Professor in our Occupational Therapy Department, who led the campus-wide initiative to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention earlier this year;
- Elsa Arce, Director for Counseling Services;
- Zauyah Waite, VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students;
- Other key staff and department liaisons
This task force will build on Chatham’s ongoing efforts to support students including the hiring earlier this year of another licensed psychologist for Counseling Services and additional wellness and mental health resources available to students across campus. Following the review of the task force, we will communicate their findings and recommendations accordingly.