Bennett College students are protesting over a lack of mental health services resources on campus as the semester winds down. This comes after the college failed to hire a new Director of Counseling Services when students were informed that it would occur on April 1st. The institution in response said that they’re offering virtual counseling options but students say that the information wasn’t disseminated effectively. The Belle’s have staged a sit-in and will not attend classes until their concerns are heard.
SGA President Zakyha Jones-Walker and the 43rd Miss Bennett College Ja’Nylah Johnson released a joint statement about the protests and the demands they want answered. The statement is below.
Bennett College students will NOT be attending class until the matters regarding counseling services are addressed.
On February 27th, the Director of Counseling Services was fired. Under her were two interns that were only able to exist on campus under a supervisor. However, the following week their hours were completed and they were authorized by the North Carolina A&T Counseling Department Supervisors to leave.
We brought matters to our VP of Academic Affairs, Laura Colson and our current President
Suzanne Walsh and were told two completely different things. 1. That a Supervisor is on
campus and 2. That we would have 24 hr online counseling available by April 1st. There was no supervisor on campus and we still do not have any type of counseling services available. As a school that prides themselves on Health and Wellness, we as a student body are frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and refuse to continue representing this institution until we have the resources we deserve as women of color at an All women’s HBCU.
43rd Miss Bennett College
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The administration has since responded to the controversy via the media. Bennett College President Dr. Suzan Walsh spoke with WFMY News 2 saying that the institution is actively looking for a new Director of Counseling Services and that communication over pertinent information can be improved. Dr. Walsh also has attended the sit-in to hear from the students.
“We feel really good for what we have plan for the fall. There’s lots of things that are on the list of demands we’re addressing those in the fall but as a student said that’s not good enough, waiting until the fall is not good enough. What are you doing right now and so we are having a meeting right now and I think all of their demands are things that we are looking into,” Walsh said in a statement obtained by WFMY News 2.
Johnson, Miss Bennet College, said yesterday the student protesters are giving the institution 24-hours to come up with a concrete plan to address the lack of mental health resources on campus. We will continue to keep you updated on this story.