HOUSTON — University of Houston students are rallying in the wake of the death of a student who fell to his death at Agnes Arnold Hall earlier this week.
It's the second suspected suicide on campus this year at the same building.
Tyler Medina’s family spoke at a vigil held Thursday night. His sisters remembered him as a sweet teen who took every opportunity to brighten someone's day.
"He was like, 'I have this chance, and I just want you to know that I care about you,'" his family said. “He was 19, so we’re missing out on 50, 60 years of that special kid… but we loved him very much.”
Medina's death pushed students on campus to press the issue with school administrators.
The University of Houston initially said that the incident is a deeply emotional and sad time with the recent deaths by suicide affecting the campus. They mobilized mental health resources for those on campus and moved classes out of the building, but students said that was not enough. They want answers as to why it's happening and what resources are being pushed to address it.
The University of Houston, in response to the incidents, said all UH students now have 24/7 free access to counseling, individual crisis intervention, support for stress, depression, family and relationship concerns and substance abuse.
But, in a list of demands, UH students said more on-campus counselors are needed and an overall funding increase is needed for mental health providers.
Here's what students are demanding:
We are calling on the University to commit to making substantive changes to provide long-term care and protection for its students.
1. Increase funding to CAPS (mental health resources in general) in the long-term
- Hire more CAPS counselors to achieve recommended International Association of Counseling Services 1:1,500 ratio
- Improve retention of CAPS counselors
- Decrease wait times
- Extend all service hours
- Make all CAPS services free
- Enable students to choose the services that best fit their needs
2. Retrofit Agnes Arnold with barriers and make the roof completely inaccessible
- Ideally, shut down the building permanently
- More long-term, tear it down
3. Create better University response when situations occur (if they occur)
- Social media and listserv communications
- Cancel all campus activities on the day of. Establish a week-long grace period for assignments, for all students
4. Improve mental health protocols on campus
- Require QPR training for all staff and faculty
- Stop UHPD involvement in conducting wellness checks
- Implement better comprehensive training for Housing staff
In a statement, The University of Houston said:
"We share the sadness and disbelief that our entire community feels after the tragic loss of our students. We recognize the mental health challenges we are facing and have made mental health and suicide prevention an institutional priority. UH President Renu Khator has established a campus task force to address mental health resources and suicide prevention.
"A second task force is considering the future of Agnes Arnold Hall. The university has been developing plans for Agnes Arnold Hall for more than a month. The building is restricted and all classes have been relocated for the remainder of the semester.
"This has been a very difficult time for our campus community, but we are committed to improving our existing services and strengthening our culture of care."