Barnard’s Rosemary Furman Counseling Center has reduced the number of free sessions it offers every student from 10 per year to eight per year, according to members of Barnard’s Student Government Association.
Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson told Spectator that the number of students using Furman has increased over the years, and that she asked the counseling center last semester to consider offering fewer free sessions, with a goal of reducing wait times.
“The issue becomes, can you get an appointment when you need it?” Hinkson said. “And certainly, counseling services is one of those things that you don’t want to hear, ‘Wow, it sounds like you’re really upset. Let’s talk in three weeks.’ That’s not helpful.”
According to SGA vice president Julia Kennedy, BC ’13, approximately a third of Barnard’s student body gets counseling at Furman, although the average student uses only five of her free counseling sessions per year. The main reason why students don’t use all of their free sessions, SGA members said, is that if Furman counselors determine that a student requires more care than Furman can provide, they’ll often refer her to an outside resource after a few visits.
Still, Kennedy said that the eight-session limit is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule, which is why no public announcement has been made about the change.
“If they’ve reached 10 and need more, then they aren’t going to be denied an 11th session,” Kennedy said. “They would always see someone during an emergency.”
The decision to reduce the number of free sessions follows administrators’ recent decisions to close the Barnard pool and reduce the physical education requirement, decisions which have prompted some students to question Barnard’s attitude toward student wellness. Kennedy, though, said that she does not think the change affects Furman’s mission of promoting student wellness. She noted that Well Woman is another campus resource for student wellness.
“I think as an SGA, we need to reaffirm our desire for wellness to be a topic of conversation on this campus,” Kennedy said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out what are the new ways of addressing the situation, in terms of what students are getting out of the resources that are being provided and what’s being taken away.”
Abby Abrams and Sammy Roth contributed reporting.