Campus groups adjust services, funds in response to wellness referendum

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After the wellness referendum passed last spring, University Health Services and other campus groups have started adjusting services and funds in response to data from the initiative’s first semester.

The fee, sponsored by former ASUC SQUELCH! senator Madison Gordon, charges students a total of $146, with $54 going to student wellness programs and $92 going to the Recreational Sports Department and Intramural Sports fees.

The referendum called for funding to extend hours at the Tang Center, support sexual assault advocates and replace the Recreational Sports Facility’s $10 fee, among other stipulations.

Since expanding hours, UHS executive director Claudia Covello said the Tang Center has seen an increase of students benefiting from services during the week, with every counselor completely booked. Last semester was the first time the Tang Center opened seven days a week in 25 years, according to Covello.

While the center’s administration and the Wellness Initiative Fee Advisory Committee — which manages the fee’s funding and programs — expected the expanded Tang Center hours would simply make it more convenient for students, who are in class most of the day, they were struck by the acute need for urgent care on the weekends.

“The students who were utilizing urgent care were really ill; they were not using it for convenience — for general medical services — but (because) they needed to be seen,” Covello said. “I’ve spoken to doctors who are working that shift, and they said ‘Oh my goodness, these students are here, and they should be here, they’re sick.’ ”

Sunday urgent care and pharmacy hours originally took place from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., but the high volume of students during the first hour led the oversight committee to switch hours to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“There was a line (outside) already,” Covello said. “They were clearly in need before 12 o’clock.”

Last semester, the Tang Center’s Monday and Tuesday closing hours changed from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., but this semester, resources for those extra hours will be redirected to Sunday services. In the four-hour period on Sunday, Covello said, the Tang Center sees about 25 students.

Most of the initiative’s changes went into effect last semester, but some of the fee money will potentially fund future student-led developments.

The committee already approved some projects, such as renovating a weight room at RSF and helping the Restorative Justice Center hire student liaisons. Rest and nap zones are a potential new service.

“In the fall, those students were mostly students on the committee, and we weren’t able to put out a campus-wide request (for proposals),” said Crystal Noel, a graduate student member of the committee. “We’re hoping we can get more from people in the student body.”

The committee has yet to hear from the RSF, but hopes to receive data soon and adjust programs accordingly. A new website for the committee is a high priority, Noel said, so students can keep up to date with service changes and submit proposals for wellness projects.

Anna Sturla covers student life. Contact her at [email protected].