Student Government (SG) passed a resolution aimed at allowing students to access emergency counseling services without academic consequences on Monday.
Authored by SG’s Executive Slate, Class of 2020 Representative Eugene Miravete, and Graduate Council (GC) Co-President Justin Douglas, the resolution calls on the Student Counseling Service (SCS) to provide excuse notes so students can miss class to attend emergency counseling sessions or intake appointments.
Resolutions passed by SG are nonbinding policy proposals, which means that it is up to the administration to decide whether to implement the proposed changes. According to SG President Jahne Brown, the resolution “is a strategic move to demonstrate [to the administration] that the student body supports our proposal.”
The resolution aims to address the issue of long appointment wait times at SCS, Brown said.
“When we discussed this issue with SCS, they shared that a big reason wait times are hard to reduce is because students aren’t able to schedule during class times,” Brown told The Maroon. “This is a structural issue that makes accessing mental health resources extremely difficult.”
Miravete said the lack of standardized excuse notes also places additional burdens on students tackling mental health issues.
SCS doesn’t “have a standard excuse note for their appointments, and departments, to our knowledge, do not have a standard policy of accepting those notes…so the burden is entirely on students to ask for an excused absence and navigate that conversation with their professors instead of having an institutional channel to do so,” Miravete said.
In addition to excuse notes, the resolution calls on the University to adopt policies at a departmental level to reduce stress, such as including student input on exam scheduling to avoid spikes in workload.
“I have had professors ask, ‘Hey, do you want the midterm on Wednesday or Friday of fifth week?’ I have gone from having three midterms to one or two in a day, which is a huge relief,” Miravete said.
Miravete said he wants to emphasize that the resolution asks for student input in exam schedules, not for students to set the schedule.
When asked about SG’s next steps should the administration refuse to implement the resolution, Douglas said, “I think the next steps would then be to have a conversation with University administrators as to why they elected not to adopt the policy. Our goal from that conversation would be to see if there was anything we could do to make the policy more amenable.”
“Regardless of the administration’s decision,” Douglas said, “we intend to keep mental health as a priority. We will continue to advocate for more equitable practices and continue to keep mental health and wellness part of the conversation.”
Brown said that the Executive Slate plans to bring a print copy of the resolution to their meeting with Robert Zimmer at the end of this month.
University spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan said in a statement to The Maroon that the University declined to comment on the resolution.