GLASSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — Students at Rowan University gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of classmates lost and to demand better mental health services on campus. After the recent deaths of three classmates, Rowan students say there are not enough counselors on campus.
With their grief in tow, last night many students attended a wellness event on campus to discuss what steps the university should explore where mental health is concerned. But the conversation didn’t end there.
A fence has just been installed on the top perimeter of a parking garage where a student was critically injured and hospitalized this week in what university officials described as a “fall.”
Students gathered with experiences of their own and candles in hand to honor the lives of at least three classmates lost to suicide this semester. One death occurred just last Friday.
“I wanted people to remember the people we lost to suicide and say we are not going to forget you,” student Destiny Hall said.
In a statement, university president Ali Houshmand said, “We have had three students die by suicide this semester, but we also have lost several other members of the university community due to other causes. While even one death is one too many, so many losses in such a short time have been shocking.”
“We’ve had problems with mental illness this past semester. I know personally I have been struggling with it,” student Tori Lucas said.
Students have been vocal on campus and on social media about access to counseling. One former student told CBS3 that he encountered a wait time of several months to see a counselor back in 2015.
Current students say they’ve experienced similar wait times.
“I’ve dealt with the problem of being wait-listed for several months,” Lucas said.
“The counselors are absolutely amazing, I have to say that, but I think there should be more of them,” Hall said.
According to the university, Rowan now has 15 counselors on staff and will soon add three more.
In the meantime, freshman Taiwol Ogunwande says assistance can also be found in one another.
“You have to go that extra step and ask that question: ‘Are you OK, like is there anything you need?’ And on top of that, be there, provide what they need,” Ogunwande said.
Another wellness meeting on campus will take place on Monday at 7 p.m.
If you are struggling, know you are not alone. If you are in crisis, the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.