The University of California Student Association (UCSA) discussed #HowAreYou: A Call to Reform Student Mental Health Services and the UConsent campaign at the monthly board meeting Sunday at UC Riverside.
UCSA is a UC-wide student advocacy organization governed by student officers made up of External Vice Presidents (EVP) from each UC campus’ undergraduate and graduate student governments and staff members. #HowAreYou is a mental health campaign voted on by UCSA Congress members in September 2015 aimed to improve accessibility and diversity of on-campus mental health services for students. The UConsent campaign is a UC-wide initiative proposed by UCSA in 2014 to support student survivors of sexual assault through education and advocacy.
According to UCSA Undergraduate Chair and third-year sociology and education double-major and External Vice President (EVP) at UC Davis Sam Alavi, the board worked hard to solidify the rubric which will be used to evaluate on-campus mental health services. Alavi said the rubric will include total wait time to see a counselor, the total number of Counseling & Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) counselors available and whether or not the C.A.P.S. building is accessible to students.
“We figure out what is right and wrong with the mental health services, we give them a grade and then we give them solutions to have them improve their services and help raise their grade,” Alavi said.
UCSB’s External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Mohsin Mirza said the meeting began with a discussion about what other campuses have done in conjunction with their C.A.P.S. centers.
“We are beginning to quantify the data that we’ve gathered so that we can better advocate for the solutions that our students need,” said Mirza.
According to Alavi, the UConsent campaign advocates for a diverse set of counselors who can relate and provide help to various students seeking help.
“We want to make sure that these conversations are as intersectional as they can be and so the statistics are not whitewashed,” Alavi said. “Part of this is talking about how certain communities face more sexual assault than others and training staff members to work with students who are undocumented or transgender so that they can support their identities.”
According to Alavi, students felt UCSA did not prioritize sexual assault enough, which motivated the board to create a plan for preventative education about sexual assault on college campuses. Alavi also said the board is pushing for UC Office of the President (UCOP) to host a peer-to-peer training symposium where students across the UC system come together to look at the best practices for consent training.
“A lot of what we’ve done is pressure the regents and president Napolitano to mandate sexual assault prevention education,” Alavi said. “We believe that if we can start having these conversations, we can prevent a lot of the sexual assaults that happen, instead of focusing on dealing with their aftermath.”
Mirza said he is hopeful of the accomplishments to come as the year progresses.
“The level of dedication and planning that we have done these past board meetings makes me optimistic that we are going to make our students very proud,” Mirza said.