By Amelia Eichel
Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) passed a resolution on Feb. 22 asking the administration to include $129,000 in the budget pending approval in April to fund Counseling Services in fall 2018.
Funding for Counseling Services has been the subject of much debate on campus and within ASLC. Chief Psychologist and Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness John Hancock spoke with ASLC twice in the past month about the current status of Counseling Services. In fall 2018, the counseling center will have exhausted the $200,000 donation that it was using to pay its staff.
One of the primary concerns discussed during the senate meeting was a long-term versus short-term solution to this funding problem. Hancock proposed an implementation of a $38 student health and wellness fee per semester, providing long-term funding for Counseling Services.
ASLC is considering the short-term solution of allocating $129,000 to Counseling Services in next year’s budget. This money would fund the counseling center for just one year. This makes hiring counselors difficult since medical professionals look for job security when applying for a new position. LC would be unable to offer long-term employment to therapists and a dietitians without sustainable funds.
ASLC originally discussed the fee solution. Senators Nicole Dean ’21 and Ariel McGee ’21 drafted a resolution to support getting a fee implemented for fall 2018. Before reviewing the resolution at the Feb. 22 meeting, ASLC discussed other funding options.
ASLC controls a 4300 account containing over $150,000 that ASLC accrued from leftover student activities fees. Senator Hannah Posey-Scholl ’20 suggested at a 4300 meeting on Feb. 18 that ASLC use $65,000 from the 4300 to fund half of the Counseling Services for next year. ASLC discussed the possibility of trying to find a donor to fund the other half of the Counseling Services and offering to name the center after said donor as an incentive.
During the meeting, ASLC Vice President Zack Johnson ’19 asked that notes and official minutes not be recorded. Concerns about the Board of Trustees or Administration relying upon student funds in order to avoid paying for the Counseling Services themselves were raised.
After reviewing the resolution, senators decided that funding Counseling Services is first and foremost the administration’s responsibility. ASLC wants to avoid placing any financial burden on students, especially for a service that they feel the administration should prioritize.
“I urge the administration to solve this issue as quickly as possible in the short-term so that we can strive for continuity and increase our capability to match the demands of our students,” Dean said. “Unfortunately it isn’t a quick fix, but if we solve this issue for next year, we will have time to find a sustainable solution for the long-term.”
The language in the resolution is vague. It asks that $129,000 be given to Counseling Services, but does not specify where this money should come from.
“We don’t want to contradict any (of the administration’s) ideas forwhere the money might come from,” Posey-Scholl said. “The most important thing is getting the counseling center funded.”
There is a lack of consensus among the ASLC, students and parents regarding the shortage of funding for the counseling center. Senator Kenneth Leja ’21 said that giving LC students a way to voice their concerns regarding the administration’s failure to fund Counseling Services would make a large impact on how this issue is resolved.
Hancock held a public meeting for students to voice their concerns. However, Leja wants more communication between students and upper-level administration.
“It’s been difficult to communicate with the Board of Trustees,” Leja said.
He proposed solutions to this communication problem.
“It’s hard to avoid pieces of paper,” Leja said. “It’s hard to avoid piles of letters from students telling their story about how the counseling center helped them. So we want to get letters from students saying why they think the counseling center is important to them and why it should be funded and send them to the Board of Trustees.”
The resolution passed on Feb. 22. It was sent out to the Board of Trustees, Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez and President Wim Wiewel. An email summarizing the resolution was emailed to the entire student body on Feb. 27.
Correction March 4, 2018, 10:56 a.m.: Language has been changed to improve clarity.