The denial of the Faculty Council’s recommendation for increased funding and support for the Counseling and Psychological Services at Ithaca College shows a blatant disregard for the mental health of students. This service, which is essential to the health and well-being of students at this campus, does not seem to be a priority for the administration because the urgency of the issue was clearly communicated through the proposal and continued efforts of the Office of Counseling and Wellness.
Deborah Harper, director of the Office of Counseling and Wellness, has been fighting for more resources and support since last fall, and when she approached the Faculty Council, the council members recognized the severity of the situation and provided Harper with their support by recommending the Office of Counseling and Wellness be granted another permanent position. Despite their efforts, the request was denied. Although Peter Rothbart, council chair and professor of music theory, history and composition, said he was waiting for the official reasoning behind the denial of the proposal, there is no question that this issue is not a priority for the administration.
At the all-college meeting March 5, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon said student affordability is the top priority. At any institution, students should come first, but the college is not putting enough money into one of the things that matters most. CAPS should not be struggling to keep up with student demand. College students across the nation need mental health resources at increasing rates, and CAPS does not have the manpower to help the students at need at this college. Neglecting a service that has the potential to save lives is unacceptable.
If ethical reasons are not enough, those in power can consider the money to be saved by retaining students that would otherwise take a leave of absence. The added position would basically pay for itself over time. Ithaca College cannot claim its students are the top priority if the administration is not willing to provide the necessary support.