Monday night in Business Hall room 104, the Rowan University Student Government Association (SGA) ran a marathon meeting. Clocking in just under two and a half hours, the main topic discussed was the proposed changes to the Wellness Center. The changes have previously been covered by The Whit.
In the open session, guest speakers Dean Jones, Doctor David Rubenstein and university spokesman Joe Cardona spoke to the assembled student body about the upcoming changes. Dr. Rubenstein took the lead in outlining the timeline for changes. Rubenstein announced that starting July 1, the Wellness Center would begin operating under the Rowan SOM umbrella and starting Aug. 1, the Wellness Center would begin billing co-pay.
After the presentation, Rubenstein took the lead on answering questions from the student body about the logistics of the change. Jones, Rubenstein and Cardona all stressed that Rowan University’s mental health is a key part of their plan moving forward.
Speaking to The Whit after the meeting, Cardona said that one of the main goals moving forward was to make university students less stigmatized toward receiving care.
“I think that there just needs to be a culture of understanding,” Cardona said. “In the sense that students need to be comfortable with the idea, and for the most part, they’re okay with saying when they need help. So we have to just build this culture of ‘hey, just go to the health center, we’ll figure out the money later on.'”
Later in the meeting, after the official administrative presentation, AVP of Academic affairs Marcus Mitchell presented his findings on the state of mental health at Rowan. According to Mitchell, freshman enrollment has increased 62 percent since 2012. And with increased numbers comes new challenges.
In a survey Mitchell posed to the student body, he noted that over half the respondents listed mental health as an issue they would most like SGA to focus on. In the same survey, about a third of the respondents also said that they didn’t feel like Rowan cared about them as an individual. After the meeting, Mitchell explained that he felt like there were viewpoints on the mental health debate at Rowan that needed to be seen and heard.
“I wanted to send a very clear message to administration that they’re going to be held accountable by the student body,” Mitchell said. “That if they’re going to be charging services from the students and from the insurance, that they would need to present concrete plans that they would be dealing with the problems that their over acceptance of students created.”
Mitchell also noted that of the speakers in open session, Dr. Rubenstein was the only one of the three that stayed past the initial question and answer session, a gesture that went above and beyond in Mitchell’s eyes.
“Dr. Rubenstein is exactly the kind of administration that’s going to be the reason Rowan is going to improve its mental health in the future,” Mitchell said. “It was very commendable that he kind of listened to me sort of rip into him a little, and he was not only agreeing at parts, but he stuck it out and I can’t commend him enough.”
The other major order of business was a debate and vote over the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for the SGA chartered clubs. Prior to the meeting, posts had been made on social media about rumors that the SGA e-board was planning to use extra money allocated in the budget to give themselves a raise. Board CFO Rob O’Leary responded to the inquiry by running through the proposed budget in front of the assembled students.
After some further debate, the measure passed with a majority vote. Speaking after the meeting, O’Leary said that it was refreshing to see students giving feedback to the board.
“I think the people who spoke the loudest were the people who were committed and dedicated to their club,” O’Leary said. “I take no offense, and I don’t think they have any actual issues with the process, I think they’re just concerned students who want to see that they can accomplish the goals that they set out for themselves for the upcoming year, and everyone’s trying to do that, so it’s difficult. So we try to do that in the most fair and efficient way possible and I think with the results of next year, we’re going to see that we did a pretty good job.”
In new business, the SGA executive board announced a change to a rule for petitioning clubs. Instead of a 90-day violation for each strike accrued as it has been in the past, petitioning organizations will now have a 60-day violation per strike, allowing a petitioning organization to have seven strikes during the process instead of five. The hope behind this is that petitioning clubs would take the opportunity to correct their behavior before they lose petitioning status.
And in club news, The American Physician Scientist Association and the Biomedical Art and Visualization Club achieved petitioning status, while Rowan Love Your Melon, the Rowan Writing Arts Club and Helping Our People Excel through Wellness (H.O.P.E.) all passed and became fully chartered organizations.
The final SGA meeting of the semester will take place in Pfleeger Hall on April 16 at 7 p.m.
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