FEATURE: Bailey Gamel on campaigning for CHWS
By Alex Dyson
Bailey Gamel (’21), formerly Chair of the ASUPS Senate, will be the ASUPS Senior Representative in the ’21-’22 year. She is also the president of Students Taking Action Together (STAT), a student activist collective which this year has petitioned for an expansion of CHWS and other student support services at Puget Sound.
STAT’s main action this year was to propose moving CHWS, along with SAA, SICE, SJC, and the SDC, into Warner Gym. Why is it important to have CHWS expanded? Is it there a need?
BG: Yes. There definitely is. We’ve known for years now. Anecdotally, we know that mental health is something that students are struggling with… We have a very small space currently for CHWS with a limited number of offices. Just that limited space alone keeps us from being able to provide counseling to all the students that are demanding it. It is so stupid, because its a matter of space! It’s not a matter of “Oh we don’t want to hire another person”, or there’s not enough counselors in the area, it’s not anything like that. It’s a matter of, we don’t have the space for them.
We also have this beautiful untapped resource on campus, the MED program. Those students are getting a masters in education in counseling and they are qualified to be doing CHWS work. They could be helping students if they’re overseen by a licensed psychologist. Again, the reason we cannot take advantage of this effectively free resource is that we don’t have an office space for those students to do their practicums in. Opening up more Warner Gym would allow us to have more office spaces… To hire more people, to have more interns, to have the MED students, and thereby to increase the number of students who would be seen by CHWS.
AD: What about expanding the SDC, SJC, and the like?
BG: Of course… The SDC, SJC, and Yellow House are all supposed to be temporary. They came out of a protest in 2014, and they were supposed to be temporary until something else could be secured. It’s been years and that’s still the only space that exists…
I think that we deserve an expansion of those spaces. Membership in identity based clubs is increasing. People want to be involved with them. Just for the Jewish Student Union, we have 200 or so members. Obviously, not that many people show up to all of our club meetings, but we do have people who want to have that space. It’s really hard when you have two clubs in a house. It feels awkward, like an intrusion, when you accidentally show up to your club meeting when another club is meeting as well, especially when they are identity based clubs, and that is a more intimate space, and it’s one where you don’t really want to be stepping on other people’s toes.
AD: What’s next for STAT?
BG: Given everything that’s happening with society, and the economy, and the University, I don’t know, frankly, how viable the option of Warner Gym is in this exact time. Which is devastating to admit to myself and say out loud. But continuing to make sure that the administration prioritizes students’ mental health, students’ well being, students’ sense of belonging on campus, especially as we move into potentially a very difficult budget year… If we can do anything to keep students staying here, re-enrolling, to keep students choosing to come here, we should be taking that opportunity…