I mentioned the other day that Michael Russell, the Director of the Wellness Center (Room 711), visited the March Faculty Council meeting to talk about their work with our students.
He brought us a really impressive report that lays out the (reportable) data from their last two semesters, showing in numerical terms how much the center means to our college. You can check out the full report here (thanks, Michael, for sending it!), and I think you’ll be as impressed as the Council was. We all know that the students we serve need a lot of help, and academic struggles are only a part–often a small part. The fuller we get, the more help is needed, but in a zero sum game (we only have so much time and availability, after all) that means that everyone gets less. If you think you’re having a hard time keeping up with your students’ needs now, imagine if there were no Wellness Center.
But Michael wasn’t there to brag. The context of his visit was in part to discuss the issue of campus security, and with the hopes of soliciting ideas from faculty about how to effectively help faculty with their issues with students. One of the primary points of Michael’s presentation was that the Wellness Center is a part of the triumvirate of behavioral resources on campus and that they each have a specific role, differentiated into A) safety threats, B) disruptive behaviors, and C) disturbed behaviors. If in doubt, he suggested, the first call should be to Security, which is there, in Mr. Rozelle’s words, “to maintain order and restore order when it has been disrupted;” in other circumstances, where there is not immediate danger, the Associate Dean of Student Services, Mario Diaz, provides evaluations of disruptive students (when security gets called) and interventions when requested by faculty for disciplinary action or warnings; in other sorts of situations, there is the Wellness Center, which takes walk-ins, referrals, and, sometimes, disruptive students for evaluations at the recommendation of Mario. In other words, it is not the Center’s role to mediate disputes between faculty and students or students and students, but they are happy and hopeful to get involved after the disruption has fizzled and security is not an issue.
In the words of their brochure, the Center is and is meant to be “a safe place to talk.”
Michael recognizes, though, that it is not an easy thing to tell a student that s/he needs some help, just as he recognizes the volume and urgency of student needs. Two of the primary ways students heard about the Center were through brief classroom presentations by the Center’s interns and the Center’s publications.
So, clearly, two ways we can help our students are to schedule presentations and to have some of the Center’s materials in our offices and classrooms. Michael is also very interested in getting some feedback on how the Center can support faculty. Doing a presentation on referring students during Professional Development Week was one possibility mentioned , development of a referral protocol (i.e., some common, safe language to use with students) was another, CAST workshops on topics like de-escalating conflicts and mediation techniques also came up.
What do you need? What would you go to? When would you want it to happen and in what format? Post some ideas here, and I’ll make sure that Michael sees them.