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On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Rep. Edward Redd submitted a resolution to the Utah legislature to declare a mental health crisis at every higher education institution in Utah.
The resolution was first passed as a bill among the Utah State University Student Association (USUSA) in September. It was originally planned by Ty Aller, USUSA’s graduate studies senator and Trevor Olsen, USU’s former student body president, and took more than a year to create.
During that year, student advocate vice president Matthew Clewett, student body president Ashley Waddoups, Aller and the USUSA Government Relations Council (GRC) worked with Redd to draft a state concurrent resolution, which will be passed on to the Utah House of Representatives and Senate at the 2017 Utah General Legislative Session.
The resolution is currently being reviewed by a group of legislative council lawyers to ensure it is in compliance with the United States Constitution.
Multiple higher education institutions in Utah will be lobbying for the resolution on Higher Education Day, which is Feb. 17.
Eventually, the GRC will testify on behalf of the resolution in front of the Utah Higher Education Committee.
“We only have about one to two minutes to basically say what the bill is and why it’s important that we look into it,” Clewett said.
If the bill is approved by the Higher Education Committee, it will be sent to Gov. Herbert for approval.
Waddoups, a co-author of the resolution, said she is nervous about the lawmakers’ ultimate decision.
“I know our representatives have our best interest at heart but I feel like it’s going to be hard because they’re faced with so many problems,” Waddoups said. “It’s going to be hard not to let this get lost in the waters that have already been muddy from so many issues.”
The resolution sites statistics such as the high rate of suicide in Utah, which Waddoups said she thinks is shocking.
“We see young, happy, talented people and think there’s no way that person could be struggling with mental illness,” Waddoups said.
However, Waddoups also said she thinks mental illness is something a lot of people struggle with.
“I think sometimes it’s people who are the ‘go-getters’ who have a lot of these problems and are motivated by that pain,” Waddoups said.