By Deanna Howes Spiro, Vice President of Communications, AJCU
This month’s issue of Connections takes a close look at the many ways Jesuit colleges and universities are serving the physical and mental health needs of students, faculty and staff. In spite of the pandemic, our institutions continue to demonstrate cura personalis for their communities both on-campus and online.
You will learn about the Happiness Habit Challenge at The University of Scranton; the Project Positive Campaign at Seattle University; the Wellness Center at Loyola University Chicago; and the Inside the L initiative at Le Moyne College. You will also find out how the annual Go Move fitness challenge pivoted from in-person to online, but still engaged faculty and staff from Jesuit institutions (led by the University of San Francisco) to determine who could get the most minutes of movement for the month of February.
Mental health is one of AJCU’s priority advocacy and outreach issues. We have spent the past eight months working closely with members of Congress to push for passage of the TREAT Act: Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment Act. This bipartisan legislation would provide temporary state licensing reciprocity for licensed mental health practitioners in good standing to practice in another state throughout the pandemic. You will learn more about AJCU’s advocacy for the TREAT Act in Jenny Smulson’s Government Relations report.
The past year has taken its toll on all of us: more than ever, we know how vitally important it is to take care of our minds and bodies. We will continue to work with our institutions of Jesuit higher education to ensure that we always maintain our practice of cura personalis throughout the pandemic and beyond.
By Molly McCarthy, Office of Communications at Le Moyne College
Let’s face it: college can be challenging. Students find themselves living away from home for the first time, navigating new relationships and responsibilities, as well as rigorous academic work. It can be taxing, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
In the midst of the pandemic, many schools are reporting surges in anxiety and depression among their undergraduate students who, in addition to handling demanding course loads, are also coping with a historic global health crisis and the economic challenges associated with it. With their emphasis on cura personalis, leaders of Jesuit colleges and universities in particular are asking themselves: How can we best support our students – mind, body and spirit – so that they can go on to build lives of meaning and success?
At Le Moyne College, caring for students begins with acknowledging that mental health is as important as physical health. It also means breaking the stigma that too often leads students to be silent about the challenges they are facing. Last fall, through the Athletic Department’s Inside The L initiative and its focus on mental health programming, the College’s student-athletes learned how to speak out for mental health after attending a virtual meeting with Ivy Watts: a former track and field star at the University of New Haven, who now devotes much of her time to sharing her mental health journey with today’s students.
Watts’ story is powerful. As an undergraduate student, she garnered an impressive array of academic and athletic accolades, including being named Northeast-10 Woman of the Year and a top 30 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Yet, despite these accomplishments, she found herself riddled with self-doubt. As she explained to the Le Moyne students, she did not feel worthy, and struggled with anxiety and depression.
Like many student-athletes, Watts was driven to succeed, to contribute to her team, and to work through challenges and even pain; asking for help did not come naturally to her. However, since her graduation in 2015, Watts has reflected on her experience and how it shaped her. She earned a Master’s degree in public health and become certified in mental health first aid. Now, she has made it her mission to share her story and to encourage others to do the same, by guiding them toward self-acceptance and self-love.
In short, she explained to the students, it’s okay to not always be okay.
“Too often, students going through something incredibly difficult will say, ‘I can handle this. It’s really not that bad,’” says Maria Randazzo, director of Le Moyne’s Wellness Center for Health and Counseling. “They don’t seek the help they need – and deserve. And, as a result, their grades – and relationships – suffer. The beauty of this program (with help from Watts) is that, as the students went through it, they were encouraged to share challenges they may be facing without fear of ridicule or judgment. It reinforced to them how important it is to prioritize your mental as well as your physical health.”
The student-athletes who participated in the mental health initiative were encouraged not just to listen to Watts’ stories, but to share their own, and to look out for their teammates. “Ivy’s story is truly empowering, and she shares it beautifully,” says Ellie Sommers, a member of the women’s swim and dive team. “But what is truly beautiful about it is how universal it is. So many people experience the same worries and struggles that she describes. She makes it clear that it’s not just okay to talk about those struggles, it’s also vital.”
The work that began with Sommers and her teammates will not end with them. The College’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee is taking the lead on sharing mental health resources – which includes a series of modules on such topics as self-care and self-worth, strength, resilience and positivity, and dealing with uncertainty – with the rest of the Le Moyne community. The College is now working to make these resources available to the entire student population, at any time, free of cost, as a result of the Northeast 10-Conference’s partnership with Watts.
Le Moyne leaders hope that students will be able to develop the skills necessary to care for themselves now and throughout the rest of their lives – to deal with setbacks, to set boundaries, and to make time for rest, exercise and nutrition. It will be a campus-wide effort, including everyone from Academic Affairs to Campus Ministry to Career Advising and Development.
“We teach our students to “Be the Change,’” says Jen Fabian ’13, assistant athletics director for compliance and marketing and senior woman administrator. “We are a team and we all have a responsibility to look out for one another. You may never know what someone else is going through and how you may be able to help them.”
For more information about the Le Moyne Athletic Department’s Inside The L culture, please visit insidethel.com.
By Shanna Johnson, Writer, Loyola University Chicago
Arantxa Valverde recalls a particularly stressful day at work: “I was crawling on the ground, sniffing around like a dog,” she says. Valverde, an advisor for the Loyola Limited Program that operates six student-run businesses at Loyola University Chicago, works with more than 80 students and must be able to switch gears at any moment, responding to even the most unusual circumstances. In this case, it was an odd smell that she was trying to identify the source of, and time was of the essence.
“Most days I feel stressed because, while I am juggling several tasks at once, the thing that goes wrong is usually something that is out of my control,” she says.
Valverde is not alone. The American Psychology Association finds that 64 percent of adults say that work causes unwanted stress in their lives, and 44 percent of Americans report that their stress has increased over the past five years. And that was true before the pandemic and the need for social distancing added a new layer of stress to our lives.
Without healthy methods to combat this stress, people may end up suffering from fatigue, headaches, and other undesirable physical manifestations of their worries, according to the American Heart Association. Outside of physical health, stress is a well-known agent behind anxiety and depression. “We often use stress and anxiety interchangeably,” says Dianna Stencel, a licensed clinical social worker at Loyola’s Wellness Center. “People are experiencing more intense anxiety than ever before.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in America suffer from an anxiety disorder. “Anxiety can impact our mood and we can end up becoming depressed and even suicidal. Not dealing with it properly affects our relationships with loved ones as well,” Stencel explains.
The Mindful Approach
All hope is not lost. Stencel recommends using the practice of mindfulness as an everyday method to keep stress at bay. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in a particular way to our experiences,” says Stencel, who is a trained mindfulness stress-reduction teacher through the Center for Mindfulness. The practice, she says, can help to “develop and nurture our ability to have a non-judging attitude toward our experiences and allow the experiences to be as they are.”
The idea is to experience life with a “beginner’s mind.” That is, to take each moment fresh and approach situations with an open mind. With more mindful practice, Stencel says, it becomes easier to tackle stress and focus on the matter at hand.
Practicing mindfulness can feel like a daunting task: Stencel recommends seeking out a mindfulness teacher or group to jump-start the process. But she also cautions that mindfulness is not about a quick-fix and that it requires practice. Over time, you can begin to identify patterns that occur in your mind and recognize that stress is a normal human reaction. Mindfulness is, above all, about understanding our reactions to our experiences and learning to be less critical of ourselves. “If you develop a practice and you are working with a teacher,” Stencel says, “it really can be transformative.”
Before the pandemic, Loyola offered opportunities for students to gather for mindfulness sessions on campus. Now, meditation can be practiced alone and, in fact, has proven to be a key element in rewiring the mind to be more apt at mindfulness. “The more people meditate, the bigger the impact it has on the brain,” says Stencel. “Studies show that we need 11 minutes of meditation a day—at a minimum—to see real changes.”
If 11 minutes seems low to you, Stencel suggests pushing that to 20 minutes. “In a recent study it was found that students who did three 20-minute meditation sessions a week had lower cortisol levels—one of the hormones that causes stress—and less cognitive degeneration over the course of a semester,” says Stencel.
Mental health is not the only aspect of our lives that suffer at the hands of stress. Rev. Scott Hendrickson, S.J., a chaplain and Associate Provost for Global and Community Engagement at Loyola, recognizes the effects stress can have in our spiritual lives as well.
“Stress can be damaging because we tend to react negatively to stressful circumstances in our lives,” he explains. “These negative reactions often cause us to complain about, and to, other people, which is destructive in maintaining meaningful relationships—including our relationship with God.”
Hendrickson suggests taking part in a Taizé prayer service as a way to counter stress. “Taizé prayer is relaxing because it is based in song and chant. The verses are melodious and repetitive; singing them allows us to concentrate on the beautiful expression of the words,” he says.
If music isn’t your thing—or you can’t find a service during the pandemic—he recommends trying the daily Examen of St. Ignatius, which offers an opportunity to reflect on the day and look ahead to the next. “The Examen helps remind us of what we are grateful for and gives us the ability to appreciate even the small parts of our day that are easy to overlook,” says Hendrickson. “This allows us to recognize God’s grace where we might not readily perceive it, and helps us to maintain our positivity even in stressful times.”
For Valverde, dealing with the unknown at work and staying ahead of stress is all about being prepared. “I need to keep lists of everything I have to do and prioritize the tasks that need immediate attention,” she says.
Communication with co-workers—who also act as a support system—is key. “I have to communicate at a high level with my supervisor so she knows where my stress level is at,” Valverde says. “It helps to talk things through with someone who knows what I am working with so I can gain a new perspective on the matter at hand.”
By Stephanie Adamec, Director, Center for Health, Education and Wellness, The University of Scranton
For more than a decade, data has driven health and wellness programming at The University of Scranton, resulting in strong participation and satisfaction scores, as well as innovative initiatives to meet emerging needs.
The University of Scranton’s Center for Health, Education and Wellness (CHEW) has led the way by closely monitoring the “pulse of the campus.” Ideas for health and wellness programming often emerge from common concerns heard by CHEW and Student Life staff members through conversations with students, as well as formal, campus-wide surveys of faculty and staff—here are a few.
Campus Health Assessment
Between 2016 and 2019, CHEW staff analyzed Scranton’s data from the National College Health Assessment to inform services, health promotion offerings, and ongoing department planning and programming. As a result, CHEW has prioritized proactive mental health education and services, in addition to alcohol education, with an increased emphasis on bystander engagement and promotion of the University’s Amnesty/Good Samaritan policy. These efforts aim to further support the University’s mission, and the principle of cura personalis, by encouraging wellness in mind, body and spirit.
Cultivating Mental Wellbeing on Campus
In response to survey data on stress and anxiety, CHEW has prioritized improving, increasing, and promoting programs and services related to stress management, health coping skills, and resiliency. Examples include:
The implementation of free and confidential online mental health screenings for depression, alcohol misuse, generalized anxiety, disordered eating, bipolar and substance use disorder. Upon completion of a screening, students are provided information on the University’s support resources and programs.
The expansion of CHEW’s Weekly Wellness Class Schedule to include daily mindfulness meditation and yoga classes, and class promotions that are tailored to emphasize proactive stress reduction (classes have been held outside and online during the pandemic).
Stress Reduction programs offered by CHEW’s Peer Health Education team, including bi-annual Stress Less Weeks held prior to finals each semester. Stress Less Week includes chair massages, mindfulness meditation, yoga classes, a Blessing of the Brains by Campus Ministry, and a free Late Night Breakfast. Each semester, Stress Less Week events draw more than 3,000 attendees among the undergraduate student population of 4,000.
Cultivating Happiness During the Pandemic
In recognition of the effects that the global lockdown and resulting stress, worry and isolation were having on the mental health of students, staff and faculty last spring, CHEW sprang into action. The goal was to offer innovative and engaging virtual wellness programs that emphasized community-building, while providing evidence-based practices to improve well-being. The result was the creation of the Happiness Habit Challenge: a 3-week program designed to help participants develop habits to promote well-being, spark joy, and emphasize togetherness.
Throughout the Happiness Habit Challenge, participants were challenged to complete four at-home “happiness activities” each week, tracking their progress through a customized weekly log, e-mailed to all participants at the end of each week. Weekly challenges were rooted in subjective well-being and happiness research, and were organized into themes, e.g., connecting with others, completing small acts of kindness, cultivating gratitude, spending time in nature, prioritizing exercise and sleep, and finding humor. Activities were deliberately small, but impactful actions that were easily repeatable, e.g., setting up a study station outside, practicing deep breathing, savoring the beauty of nature, reconnecting with a friend or colleague, thanking an essential worker, sending an encouraging card or text to someone in need, or volunteering remotely.
During an unprecedented time, in which there were many uncertainties, the Happiness Challenge aimed to shift the focus of participants from things beyond their control, to small achievable tasks that could spark joy, promote positivity, and connect them with each other. One participant wrote, “The Happiness Habit Challenges have allowed me to shift my focus from the stress of online learning and to remind myself to take time to enjoy myself.”
Sharing experiences during the Happiness Habit Challenge through photos and reflections was key in building a sense of community among participants and providing inspiration for others to take action. Photos and quotes from students, staff and faculty were shared in weekly participant emails and through social media, reaching the whole campus. One student wrote, “This challenge helped me stay motivated while I was at home. It reminded me that we are still a community even though we are not on campus.”
Happiness Challenge Accepted
More than 400 Scranton community members registered for the Happiness Habit Challenge, with 98 percent of participants reporting that that the experience helped to boost their individual well-being. Spending time in nature, prioritizing social connections, and cultivating gratitude were the challenges that participants reported making the greatest impact on their happiness levels.
“I focused on more positive things instead of letting negative emotions get to me. I also learned to appreciate more little things in my days that made me smile or appreciate life, my family, my friends, how blessed I am, and how we take so many things for granted,” said undergraduate student Katherine Peccerillo.
The overwhelmingly positive outcomes shared by participants throughout the program has solidified Scranton’s decision to bring back the Happiness Habit Challenge each spring, pandemic or not.
Photos courtesy of The University of Scranton.
By Amanda Deml, Director of University Recreation, Seattle University
“Cultivate Connection” is the theme of this year’s Project Positive campaign by University Recreation (UREC) at Seattle University—it’s needed now more than ever.
The pandemic continues to unearth research and data showcasing the feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression occurring worldwide, as separation from our friends, family and community continues. Fortunately for Seattle University, the last week of February is the perfect time for a campaign aimed to inspire joy, connection, and self-appreciation.
Project Positive is a signature UREC event that occurs annually at the end of February. This campaign, now in its seventh year, focuses on body positivity, celebrates the beauty of our own individuality, and inspires self-care. This project is typically demonstrated through special programming, campus and community partnerships, and an art installation at the University’s Eisiminger Fitness Center. The facility becomes completely transformed with art, graphics, and quotes that embrace the chosen theme, while, self-love, appreciation and positivity are weaved into existing programs, services and spaces. In past years, specific themes have included “Radiate Within” and “Explore Your Strength,” to name a few.
Project Positive was created by Christin Everson, UREC Assistant Director of Marketing & Events, as a way to provide more kindness and validation to our students, who seemed to be moving their bodies out of a hope for physical change, rather than out of care. We wanted to empower them to know that they are special and valuable, just as they are. Since its launch in 2015, Project Positive has received two Creative Excellence Awards from NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation (the national premier campus recreation professional organization) for outstanding achievements in marketing (first place in 2020 and second place in 2019).
Although the landscape looks a bit different this year, and Project Positive will be executed primarily in a virtual environment, the energy, thoughtfulness and positive feelings will still exist in a meaningful way. In a year that has challenged our ability to easily connect to the things we love, this year’s theme of “Cultivating Connection” will focus on reflecting and identifying the people, places and things that make us feel connected and most like ourselves, including connections to oneself, community and nature.
A variety of events and initiatives will take place throughout the week of February 22. Digital highlights include interactive social media; a photo project that highlights the connectedness of our community; daily videos that support the many ways our community experiences connection; daily newsletters; and a themed Spotify playlist. The facility spaces that are currently open on campus will be decorated, and special events such as livestreamed Yoga for EveryBODY, virtual intramural trivia, and a ‘5k Your Way’ will occur throughout the week.
Everson explains, “While body positivity is usually a more pronounced message, we’ve reflected on the true needs of our community this year, and are focusing instead on the connection that so many of us are missing at this time. We have been inspired by the opportunity to create something that directly aligns with the needs of our students and have found creativity in the virtual expression of this program. Project Positive, at its most basic level, exists to inspire the Seattle University community to love and care for themselves. While this year’s theme has a slightly different angle, we know our ability to innovate will enhance its reach and success.”
For a comprehensive overview of University Recreation’s Project Positive, visit our website and follow us on Instagram to experience the positivity. We invite you reflect on the things that make you feel most like you and make time to cultivate connection in your life. Collectively, we look forward with hope of brighter days ahead. For now, we pause to reflect on the joy and beauty around us and within us.
Photos courtesy of Seattle University.
By Suzy Kisylia, Senior Wellness Manager & Mara Krasts, HR Project Manager, University of San Francisco
Suzy Kisylia’s official title may be Senior Wellness Manager, but to many staff and faculty at the University of San Francisco (USF), she’s the “wellness guru.” Throughout the pandemic, Kisylia has focused on finding new ways to support the USF community by offering a variety of health and wellness programming, including the Go Move Challenge.
The Go Move Challenge started in 2013 as a friendly competition between the recreation center directors at USF and Santa Clara University to determine which university’s staff and faculty could accumulate the most exercise minutes for the month of February. That competition was a huge hit and has since expanded across the AJCU network: to date, 25 of the 28 AJCU member institutions have engaged in the program.
This year, the Go Move Challenge is happening under unprecedented conditions. Kisylia says, “Because of the pandemic, we have had to be more flexible and creative in helping participants reach their exercise goals. Not everyone has access to gyms or in-person fitness classes right now. In addition, reduced capacity thresholds make it harder to participate in classes or other indoor activities.”
One of the ways that Kisylia is encouraging people to connect through Go Move is by embracing technology. The Go Move Challenge Facebook and Instagram pages have been popular avenues for competitors to share how they are earning their minutes of exercise, while using the hashtag #GoMoveChallenge. Kisylia says that “shoveling snow” has been a common theme for East Coast and Midwest participants, noting, “We even have someone snow-kiting!” In Mobile, AL, Spring Hill College teams participated in “Yardi Gras”: a walking parade to view homes and yards that were decorated for Mardi Gras, after the annual festivities were canceled.
Zoom is also being used for online workouts and fitness classes. Kisylia says, “Participation in online classes has been exceptional at USF, as people seem to enjoy being able to squeeze in a workout during the day without having to leave their homes.”
Many employees have taken advantage of Creighton University’s offer of free fitness classes for all participating institutions through their fitness platform, hbFIT. With 50+ on-demand workouts and 20+ livestream classes, there is something for everyone.
“The Challenge has evolved from year to year, based on valuable feedback from participants,” says Kisylia. “The introduction of an online Go Move platform in 2017 provided every institution the ability to compete both regionally and on an overall basis. The new ‘total minutes’ and ‘average minutes per person’ features leveled the playing field for smaller institutions. This year, all AJCU competitors can participate in the new team component within their institution. The team aspect allows competitors to organize teams of two to six members. This brings the competition home so that everyone can compete on behalf of their college or university, but also against their own colleagues.”
Why are AJCU institutions staying engaged with Go Move year after year? Kisylia says that competition is a fantastic motivator. “The camaraderie of the Challenge is also a great incentive for many participants, particularly this year, since so many of us are seeking more ways to connect with others. There is a plaque that is awarded to the winning institution, which carries the names of each year’s prior winners. The winner holds the plaque until the next year’s winner is announced.”
Last year’s overall winner was Santa Clara, now on a 2-year winning streak. Regional winners were Fordham University for the East Coast, Creighton in the Midwest, Xavier University in the South, and Santa Clara in the West.
According to Debby Merryman, Health and Wellness Program Administrator at Santa Clara, “Faculty and staff enjoy encouraging co-workers to make the most of this month with their health and wellness. Having the team element within the Challenge is a big draw for Santa Clara employees. A little more motivation this year is that having won the past two years, we are trying for a three-peat!”
The ultimate goal of the Challenge is to motivate employees to incorporate movement into their daily lives. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of movement per week to maintain good heart health. Last year’s Go Move Challenge participants surpassed that goal by recording 225 minutes per week, with an average of 31 minutes per day. As Kisylia says, “We remind players that counting minutes means that every minute counts and that every minute is intentional. Last year, competitors logged nearly four million minutes!”
Having built such an impressive track record with Go Move over the past nine years, Kisylia is reflecting on celebrating the Challenge’s tenth year in 2022. “We have come so far from a simple, friendly competition between USF and Santa Clara. I am incredibly proud that the program has expanded to nearly all of our AJCU partners. This year’s event has been particularly poignant because of the pandemic. We are all experiencing stress and deep emotions like never before and movement is a proven way to alleviate that burden. Go Move has a key role to play in keeping us all healthy, motivated and connected.”
We are all looking forward to the results of this year’s Challenge and encourage everyone to keep moving and tracking their minutes. Don’t forget to share your GoMove experience on social media using #GoMoveChallenge, or e-mail Suzy Kisylia directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to find out the winner of this year’s Challenge by visiting the Go Move Challenge platform on March 1. And to learn more about how other institutions are earning their minutes, be sure to subscribe to AJCU Higher Ed News, which includes weekly challenge recaps. Good luck, stay healthy and have fun!
By Jenny Smulson, Vice President of Government Relations, AJCU
If you asked a college or university president to name his or her biggest priority today, you may be surprised to learn that it is the mental health needs of their students. While they are still grappling with major pandemic-related issues (e.g., Covid testing and PPE, budget deficits, transitions to virtual or hybrid learning, and questions about enrollment for the next academic year), 70% of presidents identified, in a recent survey by the American Council on Education, student mental health as a major concern, or their number one consideration.
National and local news headlines have alerted all of us to the massive toll the pandemic has taken on our nation’s health, both physical and mental. College students are not immune, with cases of anxiety, depression, stress, and isolation growing and impacting both their well-being and their academic progress. According to a recent survey by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, “Sixty-five percent of students said the pandemic has led to some mental health challenges, and 61 percent said it hurt their motivation and focus. Sixty percent of the [surveyed] students said the pandemic has caused loneliness or isolation, and 59 percent said it has negatively affected their academics.”
Additional survey data from the American College Health Association and the Healthy Minds Network found that two-thirds of students have reported their financial situations to have worsened during the pandemic, noting that financial stress is a predictor of student mental health. And sixty percent of students indicated that the pandemic has made it more difficult to access mental health care.
For many college students, the counseling center on their campuses may be their first introduction to mental health support—for others, it is a critical lifeline that will allow them to thrive academically while living with a previous mental health diagnosis. Licensed mental health providers have long been able to treat students from every state while they are on campus, but the pandemic upended that practice last year. With students attending class virtually, and not necessarily living on campus, licensed counselors and health professionals have been hindered by state laws that prevent them from treating students in another state, where the providers may not be licensed to practice. While some states issued emergency waivers to allow the use of telehealth at the start of the pandemic (thus enabling providers to support clients outside the states where they were licensed), they were not uniform, making it even more challenging for colleges and universities to serve their students.
Last April, AJCU presidents called on Congress to provide a federal solution to this national problem, including Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, president of the University of Detroit Mercy, and Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. president of Rockhurst University, who co-authored an op-ed for The Hill. They wrote, “Academic success and wellness are mutually dependent: the roadblocks that college and university counseling centers face today may have long-term, lasting impacts on the ability of students to cope, learn and succeed through these extraordinarily trying times.”
In partnership with higher education, the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment Act (H.R. 708/S.168, 117th U.S. Congress, or TREAT Act) was developed and introduced with bi-partisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives (led by Representatives Robert Latta and Debbie Dingell) and the U.S. Senate (led by Senators Chris Murphy and Roy Blunt). This legislation eliminates the patchwork approach to state emergency waivers by providing temporary state licensing reciprocity for licensed practitioners in good standing to practice in another state during this public health emergency. For college students who are attending school virtually, it offers them a means of accessing the support that their college counseling centers seek to provide.
Since its introduction in Summer 2020, AJCU has been an early and ardent advocate for the legislation. Several of our leaders, including President John J. DeGioia of Georgetown University and President Fred Pestello of Saint Louis University, worked forcefully behind the scenes to encourage lawmakers to pass the bill before the close of the 116th U.S. Congress. Unfortunately, those efforts fell short and the legislation was not passed last year. But within the first weeks of the new 117th U.S. Congress, the bill has been reintroduced by the same bipartisan, bicameral team.
We, along with our member institutions, continue our advocacy to press for the passage of this legislation. The TREAT Act is also supported by more than 100 organizations, associations, colleges and universities. Together with our Jesuits institutions and the higher education community, AJCU is helping to lead the charge in finding more co-sponsors and educating Congressional staff about our concern for our students and the solution that the TREAT Act provides for them. We will keep you apprised of developments in the weeks and months to come.