Students struggling to schedule a therapy session at the Engemann Student Health Center may now be able to use a digital platform to contact a therapist, Undergraduate Student Government Sen. Hailey Robertson said at the Tuesday meeting. She is currently working on providing free access to a therapy app for students.
Robertson and USG Director of Accessibility Affairs Gwen Howard received an anonymous survey from 110 students who indicated that they were dissatisfied with current mental health services at USC. The survey was administered to incorporate student perspective during the process of expanding mental health coverage. Robertson believes that a telehealth program such as Talkspace would help improve accessibility to counseling and alleviate the shortcomings of the Engemann Student Health Center.
“We got a lot of good feedback that was just very, very evident that students needed something that was a little bit more accessible and flexible with their schedules and that was a little less stigmatized than actually going in person and getting counseling because that can be intimidating for students,” Robertson said.
Robertson is collaborating with representatives from Talkspace, who have partnered with other universities such as Williams College, to provide a paid subscription to the service, which includes access to therapists via text or video call. She has also spoken with USC administrators on the feasibility of implementing Talkspace. The health center is still debating whether to devise its own online counseling program or outsource to another company, Robertson said.
Robertson also spoke about her work with Sens. Emily Donahue and Sara Khoshniyati on a pilot program that would provide access to free menstrual products for students.
“The ultimate goal is to have menstrual products available for students and accessible in bathrooms for free,” Robertson said. “So that there’s not a barrier to students attending class or having access to the resources they need, essentially making them just as accessible as condoms are, for example.”
Sen. Ben Rosenthal discussed his work on the Provost Task Force on University Nomenclature, which was formed in response to a 2018 USG resolution calling for a committee to address concerns regarding the name of the Von KleinSmid Center. The building is named after Rufus Von KleinSmid, a eugenicist and former USC president.
Rosenthal said the task force is still debating how to best approach a possible name change.
“Our processes essentially have been discussions about what are the concerns and how are we going to evaluate someone’s legacy,” Rosenthal said.
USG also voted unanimously during the meeting to pass a resolution that would create a working group to work toward authorizing select eateries on USC campuses too be federally subsidized food vendors. Students who are eligible for CalFresh would be granted an Electronic Benefit Transfer debit card to purchase groceries.
Robertson applauded the intent of the resolution as a current recipient of CalFresh.
”If we can do anything to help low-income students on campus stretch their money further and so that they don’t have to think about eating, paying rent … then that’s obviously something we should be doing as student government and being supportive of that,” Robertson said.
USG also passed a resolution in support of the Associated Students of the University of Utah Senate, which condemned the victim-blaming language used in its university’s motion to dismiss charges in a lawsuit filed by the parents of a deceased student. The student, Lauren McCluskey, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend despite repeated complaints of domestic abuse to university officials.