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Undergraduate Council Meeting of April 24, 2017
Attendance List not available

I. SBC Update: Tucker reported that he had a cordial meeting with Charlie Robbins about future efforts to monitor the progress of SBC. A new Director of Assessment is suppoed to be hired over the summer.

II. Students with emotional problems. How faculty and staff should deal with students who have emotional problems on campus was raised by Hanna at the previous Council meeting. Tucker invited Julian Pessier, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), to this Council meeting for a full discussion of the topic.

Julian gave the Council an impressive of overall view of how CAPS works. In particular, CAPS has the resources to serve students, even during pressure periods such as exam week. CAPS see 2500 (different) students a year. When students come in (without an appontment), they are given a ‘triage’-like assessment, and dangerously troubled students are counseled immediately. There is a 24/7 phone line manned after hours by licensed professionals working for an effective collegiate counseling organization (used by over 100 institutions; it has access to CAPS student files). The CAPS service is, of course, confidential.

An interesting experience with confidentiality that was mentioned involved a faculty member who brought a student to CAPS after talking about personal issues with a troubled student: the faculty member was told that the student should not have discussed personal matters with faculty—only CAPS should hear such information. The reason, Julian said, is that faculty could be required in a court to divulge what they were told, while CAPS staff could not. This did not go down well with Council members who care about their students and want to be able to talk to them about their problems.

Hanna wanted to change the image of mental disabilities on campus. She cited a lack of institutional flexibility in dealing with academic problems for troubled students who become mentally incapacitated during high stress periods such as final exam period. (Hanna and Alan will follow up about this problem over the summer.) Accumulating stress also causes students to withdraw mid-semester and leads to a weak academic record, although the students have often showed promising capabilities.

Many students do not want their problems to be known because of the social stigma and fear surrounding mental illnesses. This can lead to an inability to search for help. Social stigma has been decreasing, but it’s up to faculty and staff to team up and build a network of support to reach students and provide helpful resources.

There was a discussion of many outreach efforts CAPS has, such as PALS: Pet Away Life Stress, mindfulness exercises and mediation services every Wednesday during Campus Lifetime, and every Monday 12:15 to 12:45 P.M. in the Campus Recreational Center.

Hanna asked how can the faculty and surrounding students play a helpful part. Julian said that RAs are trained during the summer in liasion teams with QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer.
CAPS runs a training program on how to talk to students in stress that are available to students, staff, and faculty. Julian wanted everyone to know of CAPS as a resource and emphasize its availability to fellow students.

CAPS cannot cannot require students, referred by faculty, RAs, etc. to come to them. There is an Behavior Assessment Committee (BAC) that must be brought in. Its assessments are non-punitive, rather focused on judging safety of student and others around him/her.

Submitted by Nicole Olakkengil

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