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SGC gives orientation programming feedback and learns about available mental health services

Caryanne+Keenan%2C+director+of+New+Student+and+Transition+Programs%2C+spoke+with+SGC+about+what+activities+the+NSTP+cover+and+shared+future+events+for+Spring+2024.+
Mei Dennison
Caryanne Keenan, director of New Student and Transition Programs, spoke with SGC about what activities the NSTP cover and shared future events for Spring 2024.

The Ithaca College Student Governance Council met Feb. 5 to hear from Brian Peterson, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Caryanne Keenan, director of New Student and Transition Programs (NSTP). The council also held confirmation for the committee that oversees student elections, the Class of 2026 Senator and the first-generation senator. 

The meeting began with a financial report from the appropriations committee on budgets they approved Jan. 31. Senior Noah Strathmann, vice president of business and finance for the SGC, gave the report. 

“We approved four budgets from last Wednesday: IC Trading Card Game Club got $640, Core Trading Consultants got $4,040 and Amani Gospel Choir got $84,” Strathmann said. “[We have] a total of $5,700 allocated, and we have $1,427.33 left [in the budget].” 

Peterson presented an overview of what CAPS is and said he sought to clear any misconceptions about the services the center provides to students on campus. CAPS is located in the basement of the Hammond Health Center and provides confidential therapeutic support for students at the college with no extra charge. 

“I want to dispel a major myth that attaches itself to the counseling center every year, which is that we have a waiting list; we don’t have a waiting list,” Peterson said. “Where the question comes up about our waitlist is … if [students] came in hoping for immediate services, it may actually take seven to 10 days for them to get that first appointment, but that’s a [negotiable] schedule.” 

Peterson said CAPS will be releasing a “Healthy Mind Survey” to get student feedback on the effectiveness of mental health services provided at the college. Peterson said the “Healthy Mind Survey” is optional and anonymous for any student. Peterson said the survey will be released Feb. 19 and will be available until March 11.

“[The survey is] an opportunity for every student to have a voice in not only describing what they’re already experiencing from a mental health point of view, but also a chance to offer ideas about improving things,” Peterson said. 

Keenan gave a presentation of all the activities that NSTP covers, including fall and spring orientation, first-year and transfer student events and the Tau Sigma National Honor Society, an honor society for transfer students. Keenan also shared future events that NSTP is planning to have, like the Emerging Leaders Weekend Feb. 17-18 and the Winterfest 2024 Feb. 22. 

“[Students] do orientation [and] it’s big, it’s huge, it’s fun,” Keenan said. “It’s all of these activities. But then it’s like, ‘Okay, now what?’ We want students to come out and still be engaged.” 

Keenan then asked for feedback from the council on how NSTP can make its programming more engaging and effective for first-year and transfer students. 

Sophomore Lili Chalfant, Park School of Communications Senator, said it is important for first-year and transfer students to develop a consistency in their routine when first coming to the college. 

“A lot of students are dealing with inconsistency,” Chalfant said. “Being in a new environment, new friends. A lot of newness. Having something consistent that isn’t their classes, a support system, [is beneficial] because a lot of students feel isolated when they’re first here, because they don’t know where to go.”

Keenan said that one day she hopes to have the orientation leaders working with their small groups throughout the year instead of just for two weeks during orientation.

The SGC then held confirmations for senior Quinn Tufino, vice president of academic affairs, to the executive board for a position on the elections committee and sophomore Dante Conde, for the Class of 2026 senator position and first-year student Laron Pigford, who is a transfer student for the first-gen senator position. 

Tufino said he has prior experience being a part of the elections committee, and he admires how it’s a straightforward and transparent process. 

“I think it’s more experience for me and [I like how] there’s taking initiative and reaching out.” Tufino said. 

Conde said he was involved with SGC his first year and was a part of the Campus Affairs and Appropriations Committee, and one of his goals for the school is to make the campus safer and sustainable. 

“[I] want to work toward making sure that things are a lot more visible, a lot more safe on campus,” Conde said “Also seeing how we can improve our electricity consumption.” 

Pigford said his goals as the First-Generation Senator would be to expand the resources available to first-gen students and make the approach toward first-gen programming more intimate and specific to the unique characteristics of each first-gen student. 

“There are a lot of [first-gen students on campus] who are people of color … who are in the LGBTQ+ community … who served in the army … who have disabilities and have physical accommodations,” Pigford said. “Coming here, and not only being a transfer student, but a first generation student, I wasn’t really able to find some resources regarding that.” 

Pigford said that as a first-gen transfer student, he noticed the lack of attention to make sure first-gen students have fully transitioned into college and student life.

“I wasn’t able to find resources to help me transition into college life,” Pigford said. “There’s a lot of institutions where they want people to be college ready instead of student ready. For first-gen students, they need to learn how to be student ready, but also college ready without being pushed.”

Conde got the position of class of 2026 senator and Pigford got the position of first-gen senator. 

After the executive session, the SGC had their senator reports and sophomore Rishabh Sen, vice president of campus affairs, said there is a potential mail center and information technologies collaboration that could let students know what is in their package before they pick it up from the mail center.

During the senator’s reports, the council discussed new bills that are still in development and how to promote SGC to prospective members. 

Senior Carli McConnell, president of the student body, said the council is actively searching for new members, and it is important to promote the council, as some students are not aware that they can join the council.

“We want people on the Senate,” McConnell said. “We have 15 open senate positions right now … and there are people that have no idea what this organization is, which is really sad.”

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    Brian PetersenFeb 9, 2024 at 2:45 pm

    I appreciate the SGC giving me a chance to present about CAPS services and for the interest in mental health services at Ithaca College.. I just want to add that we have Crisis Services available for students each day between 2pm and 4pm, Monday through Friday. That is an immediate response service. For student not in crisis, it may take 7-10 days to schedule them for an Intake appointment with a counselor. We look for the next available appointment slot that fits a student’s schedule.
    We also have our after-hours (after 5pm and on weekends) crisis service that students can access by calling the CAPS number, 607-274-3136, select option #5.
    Thank you,
    Brian Petersen, Director of CAPS

    Reply