On August 15, the Office of Student Engagement and Well-Being (OSEWB) released its new plan to advance health and well-being at Tech, laying out the strategies and goals achieved in the next decade.
This new report, officially known as the Cultivate Well-Being Action and Transformation Roadmap, was released a year after the Institute began implementing its Cultivate Well-Being initiatives part of his strategic plan.
With the founding of OSEWB and the joining of Luoluo Hong as its First Vice President in 2021, Tech reviewed its health and wellbeing plans and, after extensive research and preparation, released the roadmap.
The new roadmap builds on previous plans and identifies four key goals: cultural change, capacity and creativity, community and connection, and engagement and continuity.
Together, the goals seek to strengthen prevention efforts, clinical care, and elevate positive attributes of the institute to promote well-being mitigate the negatives.
To inform these goals, OSEWB has surveyed tech students in recent years and compared their results to national databases to gauge areas for improvement. During the 2021-2022 academic year, the OSEWB also conducted many conversations with people across campus and identified 10 main themes in the conversations.
Many of these issues revolve around the clear need for improvement in tech’s welfare initiatives and the disconnect between student beliefs about the institute’s health and well-being and what the data collected shows. The four goals each include a set of strategies beneath them that focus on the eight dimensions of well-being that the institute recognizes. Some are dedicated to promoting the physical health of students, while others target the mental health needs of the campus community.
Together, the strategies pursue a holistic approach to health promotion and wellbeing. This also includes preventive measures to promote well-being more involved care is needed.
While Tech aims to improve its infrastructure to promote health and well-being, the roadmap also recognizes that “higher education institutions can seek to influence and affect the context, climate and correlates that are known to exist.” are associated with a higher level of health -well-being, but ultimately the unique and complex set and interplay of conditions that contribute to well-being differs from student to student – and may also vary for each individual throughout their lifetime.”
Execution of the plan and its impact may seem slow, but the roadmap is designed to be flexible so that unexpected events or insights can alter its course more individual care.
The strategies of the roadmap will be implemented over the next three academic years and the progress towards achieving the goals by 2030 will be evaluated and adjusted. The report also emphasizes the role that social justice plays in overall achievement Wellness in the institute.
Achieving the outlined goals will take time and effort, but campus leadership remains optimistic the expected changes.
“We’ve had many complaints from students who felt that some of the programs Tech offered, particularly in the area of mental health, weren’t really being met [students’] Expectations below those goals,” said Julia Johnson, fourth-year PUBP and vice president of well-being within the undergraduate student Government Association (SGA). Johnson highlighted certain changes SGA was looking forward to, such as creating the Center for Mental Health Care & Resources from existing ones feel-good departments.
Johnson also reported that the SGA intends to act as a liaison between the student body and administration for health and well-being concerns.
A recent example of this was to bring to light student concerns about the institute’s reduced COVID-19 response and the organization of a town hall encourage discussion on this topic.
“We don’t just want to be reactive; We want to be proactive about some of the things that we’re tracking,” Johnson said of other wellness initiatives.
While she said she was disappointed with the lack of results from the Cultivate Well-Being goals, Johnson hopes SGA will be incorporated into them and help promote health and well-being for students who are both doing well and doing well provide bad times at tech.
Students can also contact the SGA Well-Being Board through their website to report or advocate for concerns initiatives on campus.
Hong, as Vice President for Student Engagement and Welfare, is also proud of the roadmap’s goals and excited about the changes it brings.
“Improving the health, well-being and well-being of students is not just about initiatives and strategies. It’s going to require a deep, lasting cultural shift — we need to really take a hard look at our values, our attitudes and beliefs, and our assumptions about what’s ‘normal’ and acceptable,” Hong said.
She also stressed the importance of data collection for the roadmap, as “knowing the reality of students helps to create a match between perceived problems and stated goals” and leads to better outcomes.
Hong’s outlook emphasizes the notion that improving wellbeing at tech can take time but is necessary to have a lasting impact.
“Cultural change work requires perseverance and patience because it doesn’t happen in a semester or even a year,” Hong said. “In my experience with other institutional culture change efforts, it generally takes 3-5 years of concerted, sustained effort — and that requires everyone to be on board with the direction we’re going: students, staff, faculty and administration”.
As the implementation of the roadmap’s strategies is just beginning to take effect, students may notice new initiatives and programs emerging around campus. All members of the tech community can contribute to increasing wellbeing at the institute and can find the roadmap the OSEWB website.