A UC Merced Wellness Fair on Wednesday kicked off a week to build camaraderie and educate students leading up to the one-year anniversary of a violent attack that shook the campus and its surrounding community.
The fair displayed a number of services the school offers that help students to lead healthy lives.
Also planned this week are Friendship Day, Bobcat Strong Day (a nod to the #BobcatStrong slogan) and the Day of Service. Those events come as the school approaches the one-year anniversary of the Nov. 4 stabbing attack that injured four and ended when the attacker was shot and killed by campus police.
A UC Merced freshman from Santa Clara, Faisal Mohammad, entered his morning class with a 10-inch knife, a backpack filled with zip-tie handcuffs, duct tape and, in his pocket, a point-by-point script for a deadly attack, law enforcement told reporters.
Mohammad, described by law enforcement as a quiet teen who kept mostly to himself, was disgruntled at other students after he was kicked out of a study group, authorities said.
Since the attack, campus officials have worked to educate students on the health-related programs offered by the school.
Many of the health services the college offers students have been around for years, but their use has increased since the attack, according to Myrla Seibold, the associate director of counseling and psychological services.
It might be that they are more aware of distress and ask for help.
Myrla Seibold, the associate director of counseling and psychological services, on an increase in the use of services
For example, the number of students seeking mental health-related services in October was 75 percent greater than the same time last year, she said. Many factors likely contribute to the increase, she added.
“It might be that they are more aware of distress and ask for help,” she said.
During the fair, students could learn about their diet and exercise, pet a therapy dog or get a massage, to name a few of the offerings.
On a day-to-day basis, students come into the counseling offices to talk about their anxiety and depression, according to Fuji Collins, the assistant vice chancellor of student health and wellness.
He said the Wellness Fair’s emphasis was aimed at the general health of students and was not focused specifically on last year’s tragic event. “The challenge is, there are 2,500 new students this year that have no concept of what happened last year,” he said.
I think so. I feel pretty safe.
Fernanda Munoz, 26, of Modesto, on UC Merced’s security
Eating a salad at the fair was Fernanda Munoz, 26, of Modesto. In her first year at UC Merced, the applied mathematics major said she heard about the events unfolding while she was a student at Merced College. “For a while, I was a little paranoid,” she said.
Aside from the occasional creepy feeling while crossing the Scholars Lane Bridge, where Mohammad was killed by police, UC Merced feels secure, she said. “I think so,” she said. “I feel pretty safe.”
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