By Celina Simmons
Where is our school counselor? This seems to be the million-dollar question going around campus. We have been without a school counselor since the beginning of last fall, when our previous counselor took up an incredible job offer with another institution, but students have taken notice. I was able to sit down with President Joe Cassidy and Dean of Students, Tiffanie Bentley to discuss this matter in depth and find out what the next step will be, and boy, do they have a plan! As you all know, a school counselor is an essential part of student life. A counselor is someone students feel they can trust enough to share what problems they are facing in and outside school, someone to help sort through what’s happening in their heads, and also a person they can call a friend. Mental illnesses are more prevalent and varied in today’s youth than ever before, which is why it is so important for students to have someone they can trust, especially if they are coming into a new environment with numerous stressors. Having a school with roughly 6,000 students puts limits on just one counselor. The plan that is being put into place is a totally new strategy for SMCC. Instead of having just one counselor hired by the school, they are signing a contract within the next few weeks with a what President Cassidy described as a highly reputable counseling organization. What this means is that the new counseling service here will be broader than ever before. Instead of having just one, students will have access to specialized counselors within the organization. There will still be an in-house counselor available on campus, but if a student’s needs go beyond that counselor, they can be referred to a different counselor with the company. This also means that the in-house counselor won’t be nearly impossible to see due to such a high demand.
These services can be covered by a student’s pre-existing insurance, but if a student doesn’t have insurance or their insurance policy doesn’t cover it, the school will compensate so that no enrolled students will need to pay out of pocket. The school will be signing the contract with this organization within the next week or so and will announce the name of the company once that is settled. They hope to have counseling services up and running within the next month. For more information, feel free to visit the Student Life office in Spring Point Hall. The Student Life office is a resource available to ALL students, not just residents If you are thinking that the school has forgotten about the needs of their students, you are wrong. President Cassidy and Dean Bentley understand the critical importance of a school counselor, which is why they have decided to take this route. Students will be able to continue seeing the counselor they feel comfortable with even after they finish their studies at SMCC. The president shared, “I wish we had been able to make it happen more quickly, but to do it properly we had to take these steps. … The delay is going to lead to much better services for our students.