By Emily Schuelein
On the heels of ASUPS’ funding for extended hours at Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (CHWS), the office of the Dean of Students has committed additional funds to extend counseling hours by 8-12 hours a week.
Four extra hours on Friday afternoon and four hours on Tuesday afternoon are already in effect through the new psychologist Thomas Roe. When another psychologist is hired there will be an additional 4 hours a week. According to Mike Segawa, the Dean of Students, the funding for these new psychologists is “a division of student affairs commitment” due to the two vacancies of the director of intercultural engagement and a resident director position. The dean of students made the decision to fund these hours but the money is coming from other divisions through the vacancies.
Permanent funding is still needed. The new psychologists “are what they call temporary staff positions, so it is just for the remainder of this academic year,” Dean Segawa said.
Dean Segawa plans to ask the Budget Task Force (BTF), charged with drafting the university’s budget for the next academic year, for funding to add additional full time and temporary positions for next year’s CHWS psychology staff. According to the dean, the general goal of CHWS for the future is to cut the waiting time for appointments by half so that students can be seen by staff faster.
Space in the Wheelock Student Center is limited and the dean can not put new psychology offices anywhere due to privacy issues and the need for appropriate administrative staff. The extended hours are during Tuesdays and Friday evenings when there is office space available. Dr. Donn Marshall, the Director of CHWS and Associate Dean of Students, has temporarily moved out of his office, located inside CHWS, to accommodate the new psychologist.
Last year, Marshall conducted a study of comparable Pacific Northwestern liberal arts colleges to see difference in counseling wait times. Comparable schools had wait times between 0 and 17 days, compared to Puget Sound’s 23-day wait time in October. CHWS staff stated that, during peak periods, that time often soars to 6 weeks between the time a student schedules an appointment and when they see counseling staff.
Puget Sound’s endowment, though larger than many other small colleges in the Northwest, is largely earmarked for financial aid rather than for the operating budget, says Segawa. Segawa stated that Lewis and Clark, which despite having a smaller endowment has a shorter wait time, has largely dedicated its budget to operating costs. The Trail was not able to independently confirm this.