UCM’s Student Government Association is working on the “biggest student government project since the Rec was built,” said Cole Fine, SGA president.
The proposed legislation would add personnel to the University Health Center and Counseling Center and reduce the cost of services provided. The ballot measure has passed the House and the Senate and will be submitted to the student body the week of homecoming. If passed, it will take effect in the fall 2020 semester.
Fine said funding will come from a student fee applied each semester. The rate will be $2.75 per credit hour for students who take nine or fewer credit hours and a flat rate of $41.25 per semester for students enrolled in more than nine credit hours. This rate will apply to all enrolled students.
“Forty dollars is a substantial amount of money for a lot of students,” Fine said, “but we are not meeting our students’ health needs – particularly their mental health needs.”
Mental illness among college students has been on the rise over the last six years, Reuters reports. Reported suicide attempts rose from 0.7 percent of college students nationwide in 2013 to 1.8 percent in 2018. Rates of severe depression increased from 9.4 percent to 21.1 percent over the same period.
Fine said if passed, the measure is projected to raise around $800,000 annually to add services to the University Health Center, such as access to a psychiatric nurse practitioner who would be able to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medicine. This service is currently not provided on campus.
The measure would also add two doctorate-level counselors and two master’s-level counselors to the university’s Counseling Center and a registered nurse to the Health Center.
Voting on this measure will take place alongside homecoming royalty voting Oct. 7-8. Voting will be online and during set hours or at the Elliott Student Union from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students will be able to ask questions or voice concerns at a forum at 6 p.m. Thursday in Union 237A.