Staff Editorial: CSUB needs to hire more counselors

Runner Editorial, Staff

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This year at CSU Bakersfield we have seen an increase of 15% in the student population from last year.  We are seeing the effect of this increase in things such as crowded parking, long waitlists for classes, and departments being moved to share space. However, there are more serious issues that students face.  College is a stressful endeavor and many students feel the need to seek out therapy at the counseling center.

Already this year counseling services at the health center are overbooked.  In an article written by Audrey Tobola Escano, a reporter for The Runner, she cited data that said that the National Survey of Counseling Center Directors recommends a ratio of 1-to-1,500 counselor to student ratio. In a press release by the administration before the semester began, CSUB reported that enrollment was at 11,380 this fall.  That means with five full-time counselors on staff, at least two to three more are needed.  Students trying to book an appointment are having to wait one to two weeks in order to see someone and regular appointments have been cut to four to six per semester.  This is not acceptable.  The mental health of the students attending CSUB should be just as important as the graduation rates.  The administration is insisting on packing the school to a point beyond its capacity and the students, faculty, and staff are the ones who pay the price.

Of course, there are meetings and committees being formed to address this situation at the speed that these committees move at, but while we wait, students suffer.  Before the beginning of the fall semester, President Lynnette Zelezny made a speech that assured all in attendance that the students would come first.  In fact, the focal point of the much-anticipated strategic plan has been “students first.”  It doesn’t feel that way.

A significant amount of time this week has been devoted to active shooter training.  While we appreciate the need for security measures to keep us safe, it is a reactive response to the potential mental crisis that could be avoided by a proactive stance on mental health care.  It is time to stop discussing things in a meeting or with a committee and start taking applications, conducting interviews, hiring the counselors we need, and finding the space that the counseling center needs in order to best serve the student body.