At Northwestern University, students may begin seeing a few new additions to their course syllabi soon.
Northwestern’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution last week encouraging professors to include information about mental and physical health in their syllabi. First reported by the Daily Northwestern, the statement recommends language such as, “If you find yourself struggling with your mental or physical health this quarter, please feel free to approach me. I try to be flexible and accommodating.”
The statement then ends with phone numbers for health and student services.
Due to its voluntary nature, the resolution has received very little criticism. With this proposal, the Faculty Senate aims to make Northwestern welcoming to all by letting undergraduates know that their professors are approachable and understanding of their mental and physical wellbeing.
Arman Ramezani, a freshman in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, said that Penn students, with their packed schedules, stress, and pre-professional campus environment, could potentially benefit from similar language in their professors’ syllabi.
“The extra effort in writing about resources in professors’ syllabi is a comforting touch,” he said. Ramezani is currently enrolled in a psychology class that includes information about mental health in its syllabus. “I think it really reaffirms and makes clear that the faculty members care about our mental health.”
Northwestern Faculty Senate President Laurie Zoloth stressed the need for stronger student-professor bonds.
“We need to go beyond ramps and elevators to creating an academic climate that allows students with physical or mental health issues to come to professors with concerns.”