WPIRG’s mental health campaign is not a “temporary” PR move

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Reading this piece, I am deeply disappointed by this misportrayal of WPIRG’s mental health advocacy. Many individuals know me as a long-time campus mental health activist: as an undergrad, I frequently met with the Director of Counselling Services, served on the FEDS Mental Health Committee, worked together with the co-op students rebooting MATES and with Stand Up to Stigma organizers, founded a mental health mailing list, and advised on Math Faculty mental health efforts.

For many years, WPIRG supported my mental health advocacy efforts when no other organization on campus would help me. When my peer support group campaign was shot down by FEDS President after FEDS President, WPIRG organizers were there to encourage and support me. They offered space, resources, and connected me with volunteers. WPIRG even offered to look into hiring an individual part-time to assist with campus advocacy project research.  To claim that WPIRG’s mental health campaign is “temporary” when they have been supporting grassroots mental health activists since at least 2013 is unfounded.

To claim that this is a temporary shift to an issue with a broader support base misrepresents how WPIRG works as a big tent organization: WPIRG supports activists from many different backgrounds and causes, some broader in interest and some narrower. In addition to the broad base work WPIRG has supported for mental health advocacy, other work they have assisted me with include the retroactive tuition increase protests in 2013, and advocacy for women in STEM fields.

If there’s anything one should be cautious of being fooled by, perhaps it’s poorly researched editorials.

Elana Hashman

Math