The English Club recently initiated a new campus-wide movement called “Open Doors, Open Hearts,” which raises student awareness about various professors who have designated offices as safe havens–a space in which they can discuss any personal issues.
Emily Parise, President of the English Club, shared that Dr. Angela Weisl, one of the club’s academic advisors, first conceived this idea in November 2016. It was not until this semester that the initiative started.
Currently, professors are able to place a sticker that reads, “Come on in, my heart is open,” on their doors. This lets students know that they are welcome to come and discuss any problems that they may be facing, whether it be academic or otherwise.
Although the movement was created by the English Club and the English department, Parise expressed that she hopes all faculty will participate in the movement. Anyone interested may contact Parise for a sticker.
“I hope that these stickers will open a discussion about mental health on campus,” Parise wrote in an email. “These stickers are not meant to be a replacement for CAPS or other professional help, but I hope that they let students know that there are multiple safe spaces on campus where they can go to talk to someone they know and trust.”
The Student Government Association (SGA) is also actively supporting the English Club in spreading their movement.
Violet Reed, vice president of SGA, wrote in an email why she believes it is important to involve herself in this campaign.
“This semester, I realized that with the glaring issue of racism on campus, SGA’s recent resolution to stand with sexual assault victims and condone their harassers, and even student’s discontent with decisions by our current administration, that the ‘Open Doors, Open Heart’ initiative could be an asset to students on campus,” Reed said.
Reed acknowledged that some students may be wary of whether professors actually care to hear about their problems.
“This is where the initiative comes in as professors, admin, and staff…if willing to participate would put a sticker on their door indicating that they are open to talking about matters of the heart, not just the mind,” Reed said.
Dr. Mary Balkun and Dr. Weisl, the academic advisors of the English Club, shared their thoughts on the campaign’s significance to them.
“Recognizing that students may be suffering from distress for various reasons,” Balkun wrote in an email, “especially in these difficult times, but not know where to turn, the members of the English Club came up with the idea to create stickers that would signal to students where they might go if they need to talk to someone.”
Weisl expressed that the project is designed to facilitate an open space for students where one can express any issues or concerns.
“While some students already have support systems and connections on campus, this initiative is there to provide those systems and connections for students who are looking for someone to talk to who is not there to judge them,” Weisl said.
Students voiced their opinions regarding how they feel about the movement.
“That sounds pretty good, although I don’t know if many students would get too personal with certain professors,” said Valerie Dorsett, a sophomore business major. “It seems like a good idea overall.”
Christine Parreno, a sophomore nursing major, also said that the idea itself is purposeful for students. However, she shares that she is skeptical of speaking to professors herself.
“I literally have that one person I tell all my problems to,” Parreno said. “However, if they weren’t around or if I was really going through something serious and I needed someone to talk to, I would consider utilizing this campaign.”
Hannah Sakha can be reached at email@example.com.