Grad students raise concerns

HCDS comes under student scrutiny at open review meetings

An SGPS student advisor proposed changes to the location of their graduate counsellor among administrative offices at an open review of Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) held last Wednesday.

At the open meeting, part of a larger review of HCDS, Becky Pero suggested that the office of the School of Graduate Studies’ graduate counsellor be moved from Gordon Hall, where it’s currently located.

Pero said the location wasn’t ideal, since there are many administrative offices for deans and assistant deans on the same floor, and students going to see the counsellor might have to pass the same people they’re raising complaints against.

She added that the situation was better when the counsellor’s office was on a different floor than that of the administrators’, even though it was still in Gordon Hall.

Debbie Bruckner, SU Wellness Centre director at the University of Calgary, and David McMurray, vice-president of Student Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University, conducted the two-day review that included this open meeting.

A second meeting to gather feedback from the Queen’s community was held last Tuesday and covered links between the adaptive technology centre, disability services office and athletic therapy in the ARC as well as connections between HCDS and local hospitals.

An anonymous online questionnaire remained open until Sunday, Nov. 2.

Another issue raised at the Wednesday meeting was a new building for HCDS and what that building would ideally look like.

One suggestion from an attendee was that there be more general practitioners. Others included a more centralized location and the incorporation of a family counsellor to service the approximately 4,500 graduate students at Queen’s.

The reviewers also met with the AMS, SGPS, the Rector, students, faculty and staff, as well as “members of existing health and wellness committees … and community health and wellness experts”.

The University expects to receive the reviewers’ recommendations in December.

Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney, whose office initiated the review, told the Journal via email that the review’s purpose was to “facilitate consultation with the campus and broader communities”.

“This review follows a recommendation of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health,” she said, “but periodic reviews of units on campus are standard good practice.”

In 2012, the Commission stated that the review would facilitate “an in-depth consideration of [HCDS’s] present state and future prospects”, its strategic plan, successes and challenges of the organization, its performance to expectations and human, financial and physical resources.

While operations, structures, resources, services and collaborations were among the areas put forth in the review for possible discussion, Tierney said the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs “look forward to receiving recommendations on any area that the reviewers feel are appropriate.”

Tierney said she expects the reviewers will use all the information they’ve obtained when creating recommendations. After receiving these recommendations, she intends to discuss an implementation plan with HCDS and “committees with broad representation”, including the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health as well as the Health and Wellness Steering Committee.

The implementation plan will include “short-term and long-term priorities for action,” she added.

Despite sparse attendance at the two open meetings, Tierney said, “dozens of people” have provided online feedback and taken part in the smaller meetings.

“The more opinions and ideas the reviewers receive, the better!” she said.


Health, Mental

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