The University Affairs Committee assembled on Wednesday. Here’s the rundown:
Chronicling the increasing need for Counseling and Psychological Services at UNC, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp presented statistics that reflected a dramatic increase in student use of on-campus mental health services since the 2012-13 academic year.
Crisp updated the BOT on the changing dynamics concerning student use of CAPS on campus, breaking down how the 2018-19 Student Health Fee would be used across divisions of campus health.
The frequency of walk-in evaluations at CAPS increased by 104 percent within the specified timeframe. Similarly, they saw a 101 percent increase in scheduled urgent next-day follow-up appointments, though the proportion of the student population availing themselves of services offered at CAPS remained relatively consistent.
Crisp noted that, though CAPS does not currently function as a resource for students seeking long-term therapeutic care, up to 30 percent of the students evaluated at CAPS are found to be in need of care that extends beyond the short-term services available and must be referred to providers within the community.
“This is not about what’s wrong with mental health care on this campus. There is nothing wrong with mental health care on this campus, except that we’re overwhelmed,” said Crisp, addressing the negative nature of his presentation. “So we have to figure it out; we can’t just be overwhelmed and accept that.”
Crisp’s implication that CAPS might eventually need to undergo a change in approach and consider offering more long-term services was met with some pushback from University Affairs Committee Chairperson Charles Duckett, who responded he did not see funding of long-term services as a goal for CAPS.
Crisp and Provost Bob Blouin have convened a Mental Health Task Force to evaluate and address the role of CAPS and its sources of funding in the lens of the changing needs of the student body.
James Leloudis, associate dean for Honors Carolina and a professor of history, provided updates on the Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC history.
He spoke regarding proposed construction surrounding the Unsung Founders Memorial and the creation of a digital resource with reference to the monuments found in McCorkle Place.
Design mockups for a renovation of the Unsung Founders Memorial were presented. The memorial is currently facing foundational issues from sinking due to a lack of proper grading of the land. The update will include an additional brick walkway leading to the monument in order to increase its accessibility. Currently, visitors must traverse a section of grass in order to approach the monument.
Plans for a memorial to Native-American history within the context of the University at a unspecified location within McCorkle Place were discussed.
The task force also plans to update markers for both the north and south gateways of McCorkle Place, Unsung Founders Memorial and the Confederate monument, Silent Sam.
Both Leloudis and Duckett expressed the University’s desire to contextualize the monuments within the history of the University. The new markers would be equipped with a beacon that would allow visitors to access a digital resource that would provide additional information about each monument in McCorkle Place.
According to Leloudis, the proposed changes will serve to introduce McCorkle Place as “the birthplace of American public higher education” and invite campus visitors to come into the space and learn from the historical resources they hope to create.
Duckett concluded the committee meeting saying, “We could tell a complete and true history of this University, and there are some tough parts in there, which we are going to address.”
In his first address to the Board of Trustees, Manny Hernandez, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, introduced himself as the organization’s new figurehead.
Hernandez reiterated the mission of GPSF, saying that the organization would continue to seek ways of improving the UNC experience for graduate and professional students through relationships with other students and alumni.
Hernandez also said GPSF would invest in programming initiatives that would engage diverse populations within the student body, including first generation, minority students, caregivers, LGBTQ students and student veterans.
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