I Think, I Feel forum works to ease student’s worries

The Office of the President hosted I Think, I Feel: A Student-Centered Forum on March 14 as part of a larger effort to provide students with the opportunity for emotional support and validation.

Dr. Michael Middleton, provost and vice president for teaching, learning and growth, has had the wellness of Ramapo’s student body in mind, given the impending U.S. election and other distressing world news, such as the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza. Middletown introduced the forum, claiming its purpose is to “encourage togetherness and the sharing of ideas.” 

Some of the questions posed during the panel included, “What about the future makes you fearful or anxious?” and “What about the future makes you hopeful?” Students were each asked the questions and shared their own thoughts to then gain support from the offices here on campus aimed to help them. 

Students at the panel expressed concern, not entirely for global happenings but for issues facing other campuses and school districts in the United States. There is concern that limits on academic freedom and lack of support for LGBTQIA+ students in states like Florida and Texas will not forever be bound to state lines. 

Despite a rise in schools and doctors’ offices across the country not allowing people to identify as transgender and queer, Ramapo remains in solidarity with the student by providing counseling resources. LGBTQIA+ liaison Elena Yee hosts weekly walk-in hours on Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. in C-217 to assist students who may be feeling overwhelmed or who are in need of conversation. 

“I leave work knowing I work at a good place,” Yee said at the forum. 

Students at Ramapo also have the support of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance (EDIC), whose mission is to guarantee practices and protections of equity, diversity, and inclusion across the campus. 

Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Nicole Morgan Agard was in attendance alongside Kat McGee, the Director of Title IX, ADA, and Compliance Training. The purpose of Title IX is to prohibit discrimination based on sex in any educational institution that receives federal funding. 

Students at Ramapo have abundant protection and support around them as they walk down the academic wings but not every campus is like Ramapo, which only ignites the efforts of Middleton, EDIC and Dean of Students, Melissa Van Der Wall.

Van Der Wall spoke on how deeply inspired she is by students, who often live very busy lives as workers and commuters.

“It is important to meet students where they are,” Van Der Wall said. “I shouldn’t be the same as I was when I first arrived at Ramapo.” 

Assistant professor of social work Colleen Daly Martinez echoed Van Der Wall and Yee’s statements by saying, “Ramapo is the school I want to be at. Ramapo genuinely values taking care of the whole person. That isn’t always the case.” 

“Not every student was conditioned to believe that their voice matters and is important,” said Daly Martinez. “Ramapo, through events like student-centered forums, has created opportunities for conversations.”




Featured photo courtesy of Yan Krukau, Pexels