The Student Union’s (SU) weekly dog walking sessions are designed to encourage students to be active, using sport to benefit their mental health. While some may argue dog walking isn’t really a sport, the SU seem to be doing the best with the cards they’ve been dealt. For the university body seems to me far more concerned with the profits reaped from students than with the actual wellbeing of students.
The SU’s response to the university’s apparent lack of action includes encouraging students to take part in these events. The demand was huge, with the first week being sold out within an hour and the second week within 24 hours of the event tickets being released. But to some the notion that walking with a dog for five minutes can solve students’ mental health problems is far-fetched.
The dog walking programme is an offshoot of the SU’s previous pets as therapy scheme which they claimed to be enormously successful. But there remains a deeper question, one which implies an academic environment that is failing its students and not providing for the most vulnerable in the student community. These schemes shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. I doubt dog walking will make a profound or sustained benefit to the lives of students who are going through incredibly difficult times. The university body must realise that while dog walking may be part of the solution, they need to evaluate their approach to student support and wellbeing.