The tragedy at Northern Illinois University last Thursday proved to be yet another mindless act of terror on a college campus, ending with the death of six students. The fact that Steven Kazmierczak was a graduate student has led to questions on how graduate students can feel disconnected on a college campus.
Counseling services are regularly made available to undergraduates and graduate students to help them adjust to life on campus. At UR, undergraduates are provided with 10 free counseling sessions to use whenever they wish, but this option is only available to full-time graduate students, rather than all graduate students.
Graduate students run the risk of only feeling connected to campus life by way of their department. If their department does not reach out to them and offer support, it can be hard for them to find it elsewhere. At UR, orientation programs are offered at many of the graduate schools including the Warner School of Education, Simon School of Business and Eastman School of Music, and while these programs can provide students with an opportunity to meet others in their school, there is no university-wide graduate student orientation where they can meet students in different departments.
Graduate students may also live further from the center of campus or even off campus, which can lead to increased isolation. Activities that bring undergraduates together, such as dances or movie nights, can be almost nonexistent in graduate life. UR plans on mixing undergraduates and graduate students in the Riverview apartment complex for at least one year starting in the fall, where they will be able to participate in a community service program, while interacting with undergraduate students.
UR has done a commendable job in acquainting graduate students to life on campus and making them feel as though they are an important part of the University community. However, there is still room for improvement in connecting graduate students from all departments and ensuring that every student has a place to turn to if they need help.