Fowler said he was heartbroken to read the messages left on the petition, and that campus leaders are in discussions with students about their requests.
“Our students are really hurting,” Fowler said. “We have to be with them in a time of crisis. We have to take actions and listen to them when they write us or email us or file a petition. They’re telling us: ‘We need support and we need counseling and we need to be in community with each other.’”
University leaders canceled classes on Friday to acknowledge “how exhausted and anguished our campus feels at this moment,” reads an email sent Tuesday from Provost Mike Lewis and other officials.
“We heard the need for a day focused on mental health and taking a break from classes to connect with each other,” Lewis wrote.
Staff and student leaders will organize activities Friday including spiritual walks, trauma-informed yoga and mental health support.
In response to the deaths, the university has also expanded its in-person counseling hours and drop-in availability. Therapists are available to students at all times through a hotline with the University Counseling Center. Telehealth appointments are also available, and SLU is waiving the $15 student fee through at least September, officials said.
The university is deferring to the families of the two students regarding the release of any details.