New Budgetary Need for the HSO -- Additional Hotline 'Crisis' Staff is Warranted, Especially During Exam Time
One new budgetary need that might and in fact must be addressed in an overall HSO (Health and Safety Office) budget request is additional volunteer, but more particularly additional paid student work study counseling staff during exam time for the University 'crisis' hotline.
Description Statement providing an overview of the request
The request is as thus: currently, the HSO runs an evening crisis hotline, staffed by several volunteer students, to counsel students at times of emotional and psychological crisis. If the individual on the hotline seems to be suicidal, or expresses a wish to harm him or herself, there is also a school psychologist on staff who can be contacted via an emergency number by these crisis staff student volunteer counselors, as such an individual can better provide assistance and can also circumvent university liability in such cases of life and death.
But not all serious cases are 'life and death' situations. The volunteer staff at present states that it needs additional crisis training in non-life threatening yet stressful situations that often plague the crisis hotline, including but not limited to date rape, eating disorders, issues of sexuality, familial issues, issues of ethnic and racial adjustment in the larger college community, and also academic stress. To cope with the influx of additional crisis calls over recent years, additional staff is also required.
These demands can be met through added campaigning for students to become part of the hotline team, but also could be added to by making trained student personnel eligible to receive work-study funds. More money is needed for these salaried positions, as well as for additional training of the current staff.
For students in the psychology program, such paid, vocationally and educationally pertinent work on the crisis line could provide invaluable assistance to the 'real world' component of their education. It could also enable the crisis hotline to draw staff members from the student body members who might like to be a part of the program, yet whom are unable to join the staff because they must work at other designated work study jobs, such as at the library or in the cafeteria, to meet their educational costs. Increasing the funding for the program to provide salaries might thus additionally bring needed 'depth' to the pool of crisis volunteers, not only in numbers, but also in the racial, ethnic, and for want of a better term 'class' composition of the volunteer staff.
Needs analysis detailing the new or unmet need (problem) the request will satisfy and 'cure'
In recent years, the university community as a whole has acknowledged that college is an increasingly stressful time of adjustment for all students. This is of course true for all young adults, but college residential living and the strictures of the academic year unfortunately provide additional pressures to the difficulties of establishing one's identity, finding one's career path, and creating a place for one's self in one's future social and vocational life.
The unstable economy over the past several years has only contributed to the sense of pressures faced by students today, not only socially, but also academically. This is particularly true of freshman making the transition from high school to college, and also of seniors making the transition from college to the workplace or to professional and graduate school. Yet new vocational and social pressures are even felt by more acclimated sophomores and juniors facing different 'screening' classes such as organic chemistry and also who are rushing sororities or fraternities. Moreover, more and more students are taking on demanding part and even full time jobs to pay for their tuition costs, and are living at home to save on residential costs. These efforts introduce additional stresses into the lives of everyday students, such as occupational hazards and demands of co-workers, as well as the demands of home family life.
There has also been an influx of non-traditional students, such as students with families and students whom are first-generation members of their family to attend college. International students, even those from traditional backgrounds -- perhaps especially those from traditional backgrounds -- require more counseling, and specific counseling to adjust to campus life.
Other non-traditional student populations that have become a part of the college community in recent years are also students who are currently being treated for, or already suffer from psychological instability or psychological complaints. The tragic cost of not addressing the needs of this particular population is particularly manifest in the daily news, given the many recent suicides in some of the nation's most prestigious colleges.
Thus, the crisis staff needs to have its numbers added to, particularly around highly stressful times of the academic year that can be anticipated, such as exam time, which add to the already present stresses outlined above. Having staff members that are specifically trained to deal with concerns of specific racial, ethnic, and demographic populations will also add to the hotline's efficacy.
Justification statement of not meeting this need
The costs of not providing for additional staff members are multifaceted, in both practical and human terms. First of all, there is the intangible emotional cost to the college population of student's lives who are lost. Then there is the real, concrete cost of the funds that are diverted when emotionally stressed students demand paper and exam extensions, miss exams, or drop out mid-year because their mental problems and emotional needs are not adequately identified and treated with expediency. If this is not done so as well, lawsuits may result against the college, waged by concerned and/or outraged parents.
Benefit/cost analysis of the request demonstrating incontrovertible evidence that the need is cost-justified
The costs to the college in terms of salaries paid out, the extra phones and facilities required for the crisis center's additional staff, the additional advertising needed to draw volunteers and paid work study students to the program are dwarfed by the potential cost of student life, litigious costs, and also the costs of paperwork to the school of not giving students adequate support, especially during highly stressful times for the student population. Because highly stressful times can largely by anticipated by the college as a whole, to not meet this evident need presents the potential for a lawsuit that could be extremely costly for the college to fight, even if it had the potential to win the suit and it was ultimately found to be in the right.
Secondly, the experience given by the nature of the crisis hotline could be quite helpful and an asset to the students, professionally, in terms of the students' advancement within the counseling profession of psychology and the world in general. The assets to the college of giving potential work study jobs to a variety of individuals might, it could be argued, be outweighed by the loss of staff to such jobs as in the library or cafeteria, which might have less attractive hours although they require less training than the crisis staff. However, although the college would have to finance the additional training and might need to put more students on work-study to meet the additional demand, this cost would be counter-weighted by the additional funds accrued by graduates and hopefully donated to the university in a long-range strategy. Furthermore, in terms of public relations, the ability to help students cope with the stresses of college in a concrete fashion could draw more qualified students to apply to the school.
Lastly, untold human costs result, not just in lives, but in hours of studying lost, in missed exams, additional paperwork, and time spent ailing at the infirmary because of the fact students believe they have no recourse when they are unhappy. The crisis line provides…