Exclusive counsellor possible for other faculties

Finances and student interest could motivate Applied Science, Arts and Science to obtain their own counsellor

The School of Business pays for its own counsellor two days a week. Because business students have improved access, said Jason Laker, dean of student affairs, the University needs to look at what it can do so that all students have improved access.

Laker said if other faculties wanted to set up similar services for members of their faculty, student affairs would support them. “If we have faculties that want to support their students in particular ways, we want to do that,” he said. “We’re here to support students.” HCDS falls under the purview of the dean of student affairs’ office. Laker said having a personal counsellor available exclusively for School of Business students isn’t an issue of those students getting more than their fair share, but of using
resources efficiently. “For me, the question isn’t, ‘Do the commerce students deserve it?’ Sure they do,” he said. “It isn’t, ‘Are they getting more than they deserve?’ It’s, ‘How can we make sure other students get what they deserve?’” Laker added that because business students are seeing the counsellor in Goodes, it decreases the number of students going to LaSalle.

If more funds were available to make more counsellors available, they would be readily used. “I only have access to so much budget,” Laker said. “We’re not interested in setting up a stratified system,” he said. “We want to help everybody and we do the best we can to make it available.”

Laker said having a personal counsellor available at Goodes is an attempt to tailor the service to the
types of the needs of the students who study there. “I’m very interested in increasing the capacity of counselling … so that anyone who’s interested can get access to it,” he said. “We need to figure out how to move resources to make that happen.” If the opportunity arose and the funds were available, both the Faculty of arts and science and the Faculty of applied science would look into establishing a personal counsellor similar to that of the school of Business.

Cynthia Fekken, associate dean of studies in the Faculty of arts and science, said they haven’t considered getting a counsellor for the faculty before.

“We’re not either for or against it,” Fekken said. “If students of arts and science were interested in having such a program, we’d be interested in hearing them on that. … If asus were to approach us about this then we’d be willing to talk about this.” Fekken said there would be problems with having a counsellor for such a large faculty. “One of the big challenges would be money,” she said. Another challenge, Fekken said, is that the Faculty of Arts and Science isn’t located in one building.

“We’re decentralized,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to say we’d get one counsellor.”

Fekken said the most important thing is that students see counsellors when they need them. “If Business feels they have special demands … then by all means they should do that,” Fekken said. “Perhaps they’re facing unique problems.” Kyle Abrey, ASUS VP, said if ASUS wanted to establish a similar counsellor for arts and science students, it would require implementing a fee to fund
the service.

However, he said, he doesn’t think such access to a counsellor is the right solution to the problem. “I think just because a commerce student is paying an opt-outable fee doesn’t mean they should get advantageous access to services on campus,” he said. “It just seems like a double standard for commerce students.” Abrey added that having a counsellor exclusively for the School of Business raises concerns about two-tiered health care.

“I don’t want to comment from an asus point of view, but personally it sounds like twotiered healthcare to me,” he said. “Personally, I’m against that.” abrey said he would rather see increased funds directed at HCDS or the good of all students. “To me, the solution would appear to be more resources,” he said. “Why can’t someone provide [HCds] with more funding and then we’ll just get more counsellors for everyone?” Annette Bergeron, director of first-year studies for the Faculty
of applied science, said any similar initiative within the faculty would have to be brought forward
by students.

“It hasn’t been considered at all,” Bergeron said. “It does seem like a student initiative—in this case the funding [originally] came from the Commerce society.” Bergeron said she couldn’t comment as to whether it’s a good idea for the school of Business to have their own counsellor. “It does seem like it hasn’t had any discussion at all within the faculties.” Engineering society (engsoc) president Connor Langford said although he hasn’t heard of any interest among engineering students for a personal counsellor to be available within the faculty, he can see the value in the idea.

“I’d need to talk to more students about it,” he said, adding that students all have similar needs
for counselling. Langford said business students are lucky to have access to their personal counsellor
within Goodes. “I think it’s great for them. It’d be nice to make sure that all students have access to a counsellor when they need it,” he said. no one from the school of Business was available for comment,
and they deferred all questions to Mike Condra, director of Health, Counselling and disability services (HCDS). Condra said he doesn’t know how the School of Business funds the counsellor.

He said when students from the Commerce society (Comsoc) first approached him about making a
counsellor available in Goodes Hall, they came with a fixed amount of money, but that the method of
payment has now changed. “The way we do it now is we bill the school for the amount of time she spends there,” he said, although he couldn’t specify the exact amount.

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