On Jan. 22, an anonymous letter was sent out via Facebook and Twitter that had stated the Counseling Services building would be removed or relocated along with the counseling staff. Since then, the post has gained traction among Albion students and concerned both students and their parents. Since there are no other mental health clinics accessible to students in Albion, many became worried that students would be left without counseling services
Once the letter had reached administration, Leroy Wright, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Development, published a clarification post on the parent Facebook page to debunk the information in the anonymous letter. The post read as follows:
We have seen some posts on social media today and want to correct misinformation being shared: We are not closing the Office of Counseling Services. Rather, we have just begun the process of working hand in hand with the Director of Counseling Services on ways to make this important space on campus more accessible and welcoming while ensuring privacy. This may include moving to a new location where we can better serve students, but a new location will not disrupt counseling appointments or services. As we continue this process, we will solicit input from students who use Counseling Services, staff at the center and faculty to ensure we have broad input before making any decision. If there is a decision to relocate to a new space, a move will not occur until summer 2020. Counseling Services definitely feel that the College is very supportive of their service and provides the office with what they need to offer a full range of services to our students. Our goal is to improve our ability to serve all students more effectively.
As Wright describes, the Counseling Services center may be moved to another building, but will not be removed as a service center. There are several reasons why Counseling Services could be moved in the future.
One of these reasons is that there are concerns with the current Counseling Center and it’s accessibility for students with differing abilities, like the lack of a wheelchair ramp entering the Center or in the Center. Additionally, the new music center will most likely take up the space where Counseling Services currently resides.
“There’s the potential of a new music center being built near that area, and so there’s an opportunity for us to explore other options on campus [for the Counseling Services Center], and there wasn’t a definitive decision of where or when that’s going to happen. They haven’t broken ground on a new music center, but [we need to figure out] what our options are and where there are viable spaces,” said Wright.
As of right now, Wright, Student Development, Facilities Operations and the Director of Counseling Services, Dr. Frank Kellemen, have been looking at possible options for the relocation of the Counseling Services building. These options include, but are not excluded to, Munger Hall, Dean Hall and the old Student Health Services building next to Campus Safety.
“Space is limited on Albion’s campus. There’s a lot of different opportunities to explore, and I’m doing that with the director of the Counseling Center to find a viable space that would meet, not only today’s students needs, but student’s after today’s students needs,” said Wright.
Wright hopes that with the relocation, space will also be created, either in the Counseling Services Center or elsewhere on campus, for wellness services along with mental health services. This could include more meditation and yoga classes and/or reflection spaces that help students’ general well-being.
In Wright’s final statement about the anonymous letter, he wants students to know:
“Counseling is not going away, if anything we’re going to enhance the Counseling Services Center and [its] offerings. The Center staff is supportive of what we need to do to manage the current state of things, but also planning for the future. Planning for the future involves engagement with students and faculty and staff.”