The Student Body Government discussed its concerns regarding student homelessness, housing insecurity, food insecurity, issues with different university utilities and the mental health crisis among students.
Senators brought up these topics during the Senate meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19 to make the Student Body Government aware of these issues so that plans of action can be made.
Student Government held a sleep-out to bring awareness to student homelessness Nov. 19. Senator Balaal Hollings said this is a good start, but it is not enough to bring change.
“I like that we’re having a sleep-out, but I want to urge the government to do more because from my understanding, this is a sleep-out, and I don’t want to assume, but I think we need to do more because we’re gonna go sleep out until 2 a.m. and get hot chocolate and maybe have a blanket,” Hollings said. “And then most of us, not speaking for all, maybe go and sleep in a real bed.
Student organizations, we encourage them to fundraise their own money. Just because we have a budget from the school, does not mean we should not be fundraising and giving away that money to not only organizations but to people. I know that Swoop’s [Food Pantry] just got this big donation from Kroger, but that’s not enough.”
Senator LaTerricka Osborne continued by voicing her concerns about the disorganization within the Francine Parker Advising Center, parking issues on campus and the lack of timeliness with completing student’s work orders.
“It seems like a lot of our institutions on campus, such as like Francine Parker Advising, Physical Plant, parking, all have some type of clog in the system that is making it not work the way it’s supposed to,” Osborne said. “Recently, I talked to park affiliates of ParkEMU to get their counting information to try to create a gateway and things of that nature because they said they’ve been having issues themselves being the middle ground between us and Laz Parking themselves.
I’ve been hearing a lot of issues in regards to Francine Parker, which is supposed to be the psychology advising center, but it seems like every time a student goes there, they tend to deflect them somewhere else. And the Physical Plant is obviously not doing their jobs nearly as fast as they should be.
So, I don’t know where we need to look or what we need to start or anything of that nature, but I think we should start doing something because when I saw someone’s overflown toilet the other day, and they told me they kept calling and calling and nothing got done, I got worried.”
Senator Colton Ray brought attention to the lack of funding for Counseling and Psychological Services at Eastern Michigan University.
“I’ve met with the director of CAPS, and some things that I feel like we could work together as a Senate to provide that are currently issues when it comes to CAPS is that our ratio for counselor to student is way outside of international standards,” Ray said. “The ratio we have right now is 1 to every 2,400 students, and the international ratio is supposed to be 1 to every 1,000-1,500 students, so we are definitely outside of that. That’s an issue we can’t solve immediately, but I think having a student voice there is crucial.
Other than that, they also have an after-hours emergency call center. Half of the $14,000 that that cost is paid for by housing. But the other half CAPS has to find outside departments or resources in order to fulfill the rest of that funding, so I think that would be one way we could also assist them and they great work they do.
Also, the survey that they have readily online to students, that also costs money because it directly links students to the CAPS page. That costs about $5,000-$6,000 a year. CAPS department budget is only $14,000, so they couldn’t even fund these things if their entire budget was put to it.”
Ray said the grant of $3.5 million from EMU alumni group GameAbove should be put partially toward CAPS and that mental health among students should be prioritized.
“So I think us, especially since that GameAbove grant came out, I think that is the way we could assist students who are experiencing mental health crises. Also as a way to improve student retention like student mental health and security are two huge issues that impact the student body. Having a seat at the table and working on these things would be great for Student Government.”