Below is a letter written to Dean Kantrowitz and the Chancellor by a source who wishes to remain anonymous.
“Hello Dean Kantrowitz,
I first want to thank you for taking the time to notify the student body on the reasoning behind merging the Counseling and Advocacy centers. I think it was a shock to the student body when first reading the news and your email provides a little bit of insight. As I am away from Syracuse for the summer, I am one of the majority of the undergraduate community that will not be able to attend these meetings, but wanted to provide some feedback that I hope will be taken into consideration.
I am a rising senior at the university. I had first sought counseling with the center when I struggled immensely with adjusting to college life as a freshman. This past semester I was utterly devastated when I was turned away from the Counseling Center’s services when I had asked about the likelihood of being able to meet with a counselor more regularly. I was completely disrespected by the staff, especially by the receptionist at the front desk and the counselor I used to occasionally meet with. They recommended to “see a doctor in the community” when I do not have a car on campus, I have an enormous 18-19 credit course load and pay an incredible amount of tuition and refuse to pay extra for campus counseling. More importantly, I had attempted to reach Cory Wallach, the director, to inform him of these events and nobody from the Counseling Center had ever returned my phone calls. It was utterly upsetting that a center, who’s job it is to help the students, would act so immaturely and be very lackadaisical to help out a student who was in need. To this day, the problem has not been solved and upon my return to the university this fall, I will continue to get to the bottom of this problem.
While processing the events of what had happened, I realized that a flaw of the Counseling Center–that deserves a little more attention than it has in the past–is that there is too small a staff to serve an enormous population of students who are equally entitled to these services. The Counseling Center uses the excuse that there are too many students seeking help and there are “only 17 staff members.” When calling to reserve an appointment, most students have to wait between 1-3 weeks to get seen for 45 minutes. There is also the occasional conflict, in which counselors are not very considerate of a student’s rigorous class schedule. No student deserves to feel rejected to a service that is paid for with tuition because there is too small a staff to serve the needs of a student.
In the new merging of the Counseling and Advocacy Centers, I ask you to consider the possibility of adding more staff to the Counseling Center as a way of reducing the heavy traffic of students who are equally deserving of Counseling Center services. I think we can both agree that the university does not want to diminish these services from students with this new merging in place, but make the Counseling Center more accessible. With only 2 counselors who are trained to counsel students who have been sexually assaulted, it will be very difficult for the new structure to be ‘enhanced’ in the way that you would hope it to be. With the addition of more staff members to counsel and advocate for students who have been sexually assaulted, the traffic of students who seek these services will decrease enormously and more students will actually be satisfied with the counseling services that Syracuse University offers. I am sure there are multiple factors to why 2 Advocacy Center staff is an ideal number for you, but Syracuse has an enormous student body with many sexual assaults that go overlooked and eventually forgotten. A staff of 19 to accommodate a population of 10,000+ students, who are equally entitled to counseling, is wrong. I hope you reconsider the possibility of increasing center staff to better accommodate students and assure them that the center is very accessible with this new structure in place. Should students experience an assault that deserves immediate attention, they do not deserve to wait up to 3 weeks for an appointment.
I have the uppermost respect for when a university is planning to make changes to strengthen the Syracuse community, but this new merging is a topic that is very sensitive to many students and deserves the most care and attention.
Thank you very much for your time in reading this email.”