Resolution from the Student Affairs Committee Concerning Clinical Staffing Ratios at Ssu’s Counseling and Psychological Services

RESOLVED: That the Sonoma State University Academic Senate affirm the importance of attaining staffing ratios for Counseling and Psychological Services that more closely correspond to national standards for university counseling centers.

RESOLVED: That the Sonoma State University Academic Senate urge the Administration to (a) commit to hiring at least one new full-time counselor by January 15, 2009 and at least one more new counselor by August 15, 2009, and (b) provide a long-term staffing plan for Counseling and Psychological Services that will maintain professionally acceptable staffing ratios as SSU’s student population increases.

RATIONALE: Sonoma State University’s counselor-to-student ratio is currently estimated to be 1:4229. The ratios for other CSU campuses range from 1:1273 to 1:2976. Professional standards for university counseling units call for a ratio of 1 full-time counselor to 1500 students. By all accounts, SSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services operates with ratios that greatly exceed professional standards and are not conducive to optimal levels of student support. This discrepancy will only expand as our enrollment increases in coming years.

On a national level, research indicates that more students with significant emotional distress are attending college. Additionally, increasing numbers of college students have received treatment prior to attending college and expect that therapy services will be available at the academic institutions that they attend. Furthermore, the events on the Virginia Tech campus have forced college campuses to attend more closely to policies and procedures related to student mental health.

On the SSU campus, having more clinical staff would allow for increased time to be spent on counseling students who are experiencing significant emotional distress. In addition, an effective campus preparedness program for students with emotional distress involves a multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder approach of prevention, communication, consultation, and support. A reduction in counselor-to-student ratios would allow SSU’s clinical staff to engage in more of these preventive and outreach activities for the larger campus community. It is anticipated that increased access to mental health services on campus will serve to enhance student performance, increase retention, and contribute to a safer campus climate.

Approved by the Senate