On Wednesday Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., there was dialogue held in Cole Cinema at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) on the topic of the Wellness Center. The discussion lasted for about an hour while a little under 10 students were in attendance.
This open dialogue comes after the student speakout in the proposed Social Host, alcohol and speaker policies that was held on Sept. 11. This dialogue was organized and advertised by SMCM’s Dean of Students Leonard Brown. This differs from the student speakout which was held by the Student Government Association.
A fact sheet was provided on InsideSMCM for those who attended the dialogue to read. It included statistics about SMCM’s own Wellness Center such as “In 2018, the SMCM counseling center…Increased the number of psychiatric/medication hours from 6 hours/week to 10 hours/week (Nationally, ONLY 64% of college counseling centers offer ANY psychiatric services)” along with national statistics like “5X – The rate that the demand for counseling services outpaces enrollment growth.” No information regarding physical health was provided.
Brown invited representatives from the Wellness Center to the dialogue, including Laurie Scherer and Stephanie Gutridge-Snode, who are the Director and the Assistant Director of the Wellness Center. Additionally, President Tuajuanda Jordan was in attendance. The staff and the students all introduced themselves at the onset of the dialogue. Brown explained that he wanted this dialogue to be more of a conversation between the students and staff, instead of a series of one sided statements from the students.
Some concerns that the students proposed were regarding the availability of receiving medical attention. Since the Wellness Center’s walk-in hours for physical health are 9-11 a.m., it is difficult for some students to attend, since those hours coincide with many class times at SMCM. Other students mentioned the difficulties of securing an appointment to see an appropriate therapist. To keep up with the demand of therapy services, Peer Health Educators now handle the counseling walk in hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. Additionally, there have been misconceptions about the services that the Wellness Center provides, so the issue of advertising was raised.
Since money is an issue, Brown wanted input from the students in finding ways to use the staff that the Wellness Center has to meet the needs of the students. Students mentioned having hours on the weekends since the Wellness Center is currently closed on Saturdays and Sundays, or having longer hours during the weekdays.
Brown said that he would meet with the Wellness Center and administrative staff in order to create a plan to implement changes to meet the need of SMCM students and report back in a about a week.
If you couldn’t make the dialogue, but would like to share concerns, Brown will be available between 3 and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, either at The Daily Grind, the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center, or the Lewis Quadrangle Pub to personally share ideas about any topic of issue. The next dialogue will be about Title IX in Cole Cinema on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.