President Frenk discusses environment, mental health, smoking at Senate meeting

While attending this week’s Senate meeting, President Julio Frenk had the chance to meet the student Senators who make influential decisions on campus.

In his first appearance in Senate as the new president, Frenk learned how Student Government makes an impact on campus through numerous policies.

Joining him was Stuart Miller, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, Tracey Berkowitz of the Fairholme Foundation and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Patricia Whitely. They came to learn about the senators’ upcoming and exciting projects and to hear the concerns of the students.

As representatives of the student body, senators posed questions to the new president about what he would do for the university.

Frenk stressed that students should respect the environment and use the resources of education and research at the school’s disposal to combat climate change. He mentioned how the Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science could assist on the topic of rising sea levels and how other schools within the university will help to ensure the university paves the way to being environmentally wise.

“The university should serve as models of examples of society to follow and embrace,” Frenk said. “Respect for the environment; we have a duty to future generations. We want a green campus.”

Senator Nicholas Meury of the Student Health Advisory Committee was concerned about the visibility of the Counseling Center, stating that it is not prominent enough. He also mentioned that there was a stigma attached to going to the center, which Frenk agreed with, and recounted how he exposed inhumane treatment on mental health patients in Mexico.

“It garnered a lot of attention on how mental health patients are treated,” Frenk said. “Mental health has been a passion of mine. The emotions are what define us as human beings. It is part of our existence. Paying attention to mental health is absolutely crucial.”

Another health aspect discussed was smoking on campus. Frenk praised the campus for becoming smoke-free, but agreed that there was more that the student body could do.

“You should reinforce the message that smoking is not an okay or cool thing. It’s stupid, you are killing yourself,” Frenk said. “Peer pressure has been shown to be the strongest deterrence to smoking, as it now is a socially unacceptable behavior. It must be a campus responsibility.”

Frenk and the other guests acknowledged how the Senate is the bridge that connects students to the administrators. Student Government also played a role when the university was searching for a new president.

“It is good to engage with young, energetic people who will be our future,” Frenk said.