UW-River Falls offers support to students and staff

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:04 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - UW-River Falls students began their Thanksgiving break early as a way to help students and staff focus on their mental health after the campus experienced recent tragedies.

“We’ve had the loss of three students and the staff member. It’s kind of interesting how that affects you, even if you don’t know them,” UW-River Falls student Carson Holcomb says.

“I can definitely say it’s taken a toll on the campus. It’s been kind of feeling of a sadder vibe,” adds UW-River Fall sophomore Ian Jeffrey.

UW-River Falls this week is empty in part because of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but also to aid in supporting students and staff that have experienced unexpected losses.

“With the extension of (the) Thanksgiving break, it’s giving students more time to take a break, breath a little and just really process some of their feelings,” says UW-River Falls student Amber Rappl, and adds, “Even if they (my peers) didn’t directly know the students, they can still take time to really process maybe external stresses, because a lot of the students that I work with and talk to on a regular basis, everyone’s just dealing with a lot right now and there’s so many external stresses going on outside of just being a full-time student or working part-time jobs.”

The extended break is shining a light on the resources available.

“I think the more we talk about mental health and the more we encourage students to stop by instead of an appointment, I would think that we’re going to be probably pretty busy for the rest of the academic year,” UW-River Falls Director of Student Health and Counseling Debbie Janis says, and adds, “We had grief counselors for a couple of weeks (and) we do have the pet therapy which is ongoing.”

Additional resources are available for students and staff.

“So a lot of the events, especially in the last two weeks, were definitely kind of spurred in response to some of the events on campus. So there were previously a lot of mental health resources and activities like specifically through counseling services on campus, but the frequency of the events and resources in the short-term has incresed,” says Rappl.

Students and staff also began a memorial at a university sign and gathered for a memorial walk as a way to remember the professor in addition to three students.

“We had a few students come by for our good food good conversation event immediately after one of the students (that) passed away just to get away from campus and be with friendly faces,” says Outreach Coordinator of the Journey House Campus Ministry Heather Rushfeldt. She supports UW-River Falls and Chippewa Valley Technical College students.

UW-River Falls officials released a statement on recent student deaths.

At this time, we are focused on extending compassion and support to those affected by these losses, while also providing a caring environment for all our students and employees.

We have established comprehensive counseling services and resources available to assist anyone who may be affected by this situation.

As we look forward into the future, we will continue as a community to identify ways to foster a culture of care and support in which our students, faculty, and staff can thrive.