By JACKSON DOWNEY
An anonymous graduate student at UMW, visited the Talley Center hoping to schedule bi-weekly counseling appointments. she said that she had been struggling with anxiety throughout the summer and thought the resources provided at the Talley Center could help her with her mental health struggles.
However, when she went to make an appointment, she was not allowed to schedule one. “The counselor told me that the bi-weekly appointments were only available for undergraduate students.”
She was given a list of available counseling services in the Fredericksburg area. Only one of the centers on the list gives out appointments free of charge, but she found out that it had a long waiting list. When she explained to the Talley Center counselor that she could not afford to go elsewhere and was concerned about how this could impact her anxiety in the upcoming year, the counselor was apologetic and said she would contact the graduate student if there was a change in policy.
Dr. Tevya Zukor, director of the Talley Center, said that while graduate students cannot schedule regular appointments, they can receive services in the event of a crisis situation at any time. Dr. Zukor also stated that group counseling sessions are open to graduate and undergraduate students alike. Another option available to graduate students is a consultation meeting, in which a counselor can assess any student and point them in the direction of appropriate outside resources.
When asked why the policy was in place, Dr. Zukor stated that it has been in practice since before he was the director. He explained that the proper resources are not available in order to allow for graduate and part-time students to attend regular counseling sessions. He said that the Talley Center is understaffed and in need of more resources to handle the growing demand from both undergraduate and graduate students.
“If we had one or two more full-time staff members, one of the first things I would look into would be changing this policy,” said Dr. Zukor.
The Talley Center is doing what it can to provide resources to students. Because they do not have the finances to hire more staff in order to offer more counseling to all students, more money should be allocated to the Talley Center in order to offer more services. Mental health is an issue that affects all students, and UMW needs the proper resources to help them.
The graduate student is justified in her feelings of oppression. “If graduate students are allowed to attend fitness classes, visit the health center on the Fredericksburg campus, and live on campus if they so choose, we should be allowed to use the resources at the Talley Center,” she said.
“A graduate student’s mental health should be as much of a priority as that of an undergraduate student, especially when graduate students are in an accelerated Master’s program and under a great deal of stress,” she added.