Monday Morning Message 11.9.20 You Are Not Alone.

Posted 2020-11-09 10:11am

“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.” – J. Stanford

The first semester of law school is always a confusing and challenging time….The fact that you are doing this during a pandemic speaks volumes about your strength, ability, and flexibility….. You are not alone. I write to remind you…. We are here.” – Sarah Beznoska, Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services, in an email to our first-year students, the first-ever 1L class at CSU C|M|LAW to start their legal education online.

My highest priority as Dean is not only our students’ first-class, quality legal education, but also their happiness, mental health, and well-being.

For seven years, I served as President/CEO of the Center for Families and Children and was the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Mental Health Advocacy Coalition which has since expanded statewide. I learned up close that the starting point for a successful, purpose-driven life is to take care of yourself and the people around you.

Wellness in America is at crisis levels. We are navigating unprecedented isolation in a pandemic, struggling as a nation with deep and ongoing racial injustice, profound political and social divisions, and constant uncertainty.

The law school stereotype is that law school must be a grueling ordeal to adequately prepare students for legal practice. The stress on students’ mental and physical well-being has become an accepted rite of passage of law school life. Yes, law school is and should be hard, but that should not be accepted.

The toll on our students’ mental health is an obstacle to their success. If we are to hold true to the “unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness,” we have a responsibility to our students to do all we can to help them in that pursuit.

We are a law school that is student-centered. Here you will find open doors and open minds and a level of accessibility, support, encouragement, and interaction that many law schools don’t offer.

Our students, staff, and faculty have stepped up to help our students and each other, led by Sarah Beznoska, Assistant Dean for Student/Career Services.

We are committed, along with our Student Bar Association’s Wellness Committee, chaired by 2L AnnaMaria Jadue, our staff Wellness Committee, chaired by Amy BurchfieldHead of Library Research/Instructional Services, and our Lift Our Spirits Task Force, co-chaired by Beth Farrell, Head of Library Access/Technical Services, Jaime Gay, Assistant Director of Student/ Career Services, and Julie DiBiasioDirector of Graduate Studies/Professional Development, to finding ways to create a culture of wellness. Nick DeSantis, Director of Academic Support, offers virtual mindfulness meditation opportunities for our law school community.

Our recent efforts have included designing safe, socially distant ways for our students, faculty, and staff to see each other in-person, such as a recent successful visit to Swenson’s Drive-In Restaurant where we provided a free meal for every student and an upcoming drive-in movie for our students, staff, and faculty. This month we will also offer a law student only virtual support group, led by mental health experts at the CSU Counseling Center.

I recently created a Wellness Fund to raise funds for our efforts to promote the wellness of our students, staff, and faculty. If you would like to contribute to the Fund, please contact Ashley Presutto at a.presutto@csuohio.edu

We also recognize that members of our law school community may be struggling in ways that cannot be solved with fun events and social media posts. If you're feeling alone, it's important to reach out for support, whether to trusted friends, family, colleagues, classmates, or a trained professional. See the resources listed below.

Community Resources  

  • CSU Counseling Center: The Counseling Center is operating remotely during the Fall 2020 semester, but is assisting students through remote appointments and resources. See the Counseling Center's website for more information: https://www.csuohio.edu/counselingcenter/counselingcenter 

 

  • CSU CARE Team: The CSU Community Assessment Response and Evaluation Team works to support the well-being and safety of the campus community.  If you have a concern about a CSU community member, you may make a referral to the CARE Team. Some reasons people commonly make referrals include: concerns related to physical health, illness, or wellbeing; concerns related to mental health and emotional well-being; interpersonal relationship issues; loss of a loved one; concerns related to finances, housing, or food scarcity; and academic concerns related to performance, attendance, or retention. See: https://www.csuohio.edu/care/csu-care-tea 

 

  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA), Mental Health & Wellness Committee: The CMBA's committee plans activities, events, and continuing legal education sessions related to mental health and wellness. See the committee's website

 

 

  • Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP): The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping Ohio's judges, attorneys, and law students obtain treatment for substance abuse, chemical dependency, addiction, and mental health issues. See: https://www.ohiolap.org/confidential 

 

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–8255

You are not alone. We are here for you.

 Monday Moment: On Friday we held our first Living Justice Day, an online fundraising event to benefit student scholarshipsand fellowships focused on racial and social justice. In a single day, 104 generous donors contributed $53,365. We held a lunch hour CLE panel and an evening alumni panel, capped off with a virtual viewing of the movie Just Mercy. While Living Justice Day has ended, our work has not. The CLE and alumni panel discussions will soon be made available to watch online. If you missed the opportunity to help our students on Friday, you can still make contributions online at https://www.law.csuohio.edu/alumnigiving/makeagift

Thanks!

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice. 

 Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,

Lee

Lee Fisher
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law 
| Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law

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