By Amelia Eichel
The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) plans to use $62,500 from its 4300 account to fund the Lewis & Clark Counseling Services for the 2018 to 2019 school year.
“This money will keep the center at its current functioning capacity as well as adding on the dietitian service,” ASLC Vice President Zack Johnson ’19 said.
The bill that will formalize the allocation will be presented at the April 19 Senate meeting. This legislation supersedes the previous resolution to support using the school’s general budget to fund Counseling Services. Administration did not include funding for Counseling Services in the 2018-2019 budget and did not have time to implement a student health fee to fund the services for next year. As a result, ASLC decided to fund the services themselves.
The clause that allocates $62,500 to Counseling Services will expire at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year. This means that the 4300 account will be used to fund Counseling Services for only one year, and after that ASLC expects that either a student health fee will be implemented or the administration will fund Counseling Services directly.
A straw poll was taken during the April 12 senate meeting to gauge the senators’ support of the $62,500 allocation. All but one senator supported the amount.
“I thought the straw poll did what it needed to do,” Johnson said. “I would say with strong confidence that the counseling center will get funded.”
Chief Psychologist and Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness John Hancock originally asked for $129,000 to keep the services that the Counseling Service currently offers and add an additional full-time therapist position and dietitian. Other ideas are being considered for how the center might augment its services in the future since they were not able to get the funds to hire an additional therapist.
The Student Health Advisory Board passed a resolution on March 8 in support of Counseling Services partnering with the LC Graduate School’s Community Counseling Center. The resolution advised Hancock and Community Counseling Center Director Justin Henderson to “begin working together immediately in order to develop new opportunities for undergraduate students to use the counseling resources available at the Lewis & Clark Community Counseling Center.”
Hancock described what the Community Counseling Center is.
“Counseling Service might better refer some students to the Community Counseling Center, which is a clinic run by the graduate school and staffed by its counselors-in-training, and that clinic is located on Barbur Boulevard,” Hancock said.
Counseling Services are strained for resources. During the ASLC meeting, a 30–45 day waitlist to see counselors was frequently referenced. However, according to Hancock, students can generally schedule an initial counseling appointment within one to two weeks. If counselor schedules are full, subsequent appointments can generally be scheduled with an average wait time of two weeks, and a maximum wait of one month. Counselors can generally see students in crisis within 24 hours.
“I have been to (Counseling Services on campus) one time,” one student, who prefers to remain anonymous, said. “The one time that I went, they referred me to go off campus, and that just seemed really out of my way. The whole point of going to counseling on campus is so I don’t have to go off campus. I haven’t done counseling since then.”
In general, ASLC feels it is in the school’s best interest to provide reliable mental health services to students.
“It impacts every aspect of this school if students are not mentally healthy,” Johnson said. “If they do not do well in school, it brings GPAs down which brings the image of the college down. If students have to drop out because they are going through mental crises, it ruins the retention rate which this school already cannot maintain. So it is not only in their best interest, it is quite literally their only interest, and I don’t understand how no one in administration has grasped that.”
Additional reporting by Nick Sabatini
Correction April 25, 2018, 3:32 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly cited a 30–45 day waitlist for counseling services. The information has been revised to reflect accurate average wait times.