The Student Services Finance Committee voted unanimously Monday night against the University Health Services’ proposed $18.9 million budget.
Funding towards UHS’s current operations will not be impacted.
An open forum was held before the vote in which concerned students voiced their concerns and shared their experiences with the services currently provided by UHS and their proposed funding.
Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Chair Laura Downer spoke out against what she believes is UHS’s lackluster response to the issue of mental health on campus.
“UHS and the UW administration has put enough thought and effort into this situation to prepare excuses for why their budget should not expand mental health resources,” Downer said.
Proposed solutions during the open forum centered around expansion of resources to residence halls, an increase in number of minority counselors and a decrease in wait times for students seeking help through UHS.
Wait times for mental health treatment reached as long as 36 days in 2018. ASM Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair Agalia Ardyasa shared her concerns over the wait times.
“How are we meant to save our students when we don’t even have the capability to save them?” Ardyasa said.
SSFC Chair Jeremey Swanson and Rep. Jon Kim shared that they had met with UHS leaders last Friday following last week’s presentation.
The two revealed that UHS leaders attempted to negotiate with the two in the form of proposing five more mental health counselors instead of the two they had previously requested, provided SSFC voted in favor of their budget.
“It was disingenuous to go directly to leadership three days before their budget was to be voted on and try to put a band-aid on a large issue that is complex and requires a more serious and more thoughtful approach,” Swanson said.
Members of SSFC including Rep. Cooper Beckwith stressed the importance of working with UHS to create a more comprehensive solution to mental health problems on campus.
“Every time we put a delay on this issue, it’s a delay on students trying to access the services they need,” Beckwith said.
SSFC will meet with Chancellor Rebecca Blank in late March or early April to provide their recommendation on the budget in which Blank will make the final decision on UHS’s funding.