ASUU dropped its bill to fund a fountain for the senior class gift and replaced it with a bill to donate funds to the U Counseling Center’s Mindfulness Clinic.
While the bill still has to pass the Senate on Thursday, it passed unanimously in the ASUU Assembly meeting Tuesday night. The bill, which would provide $12,500 to the Counseling Center, was created by Senior Class President Brittni Strickland. The original amount was $5,000, but Assembly members voted to increase the donation.
Strickland said this donation was a back-up plan if there was not sufficient student support for the fountain. The original fountain bill, presented to ASUU legislators in March, did not pass the Senate and has not received much student support. Some thought $30,000 was too expensive (the total fountain cost of $75,000 was to be supplemented by U Athletics) while others said it would waste water and was planned for a poor location on campus.
The alternate $12,500 donation will help the Mindfulness Clinic expand to include another group of therapy rooms and biofeedback kiosks. The money will also be used to purchase relaxation chairs and calming wall art.
Strickland hopes expanding the clinic will shorten the wait time it takes for students to see a counselor at the center. It takes, on average, up to four weeks to get an appointment now. The funding will also provide room for workshops and a place for students to meditate and de-stress.
“Mental health is a rising issue in the state of Utah and especially on college campuses,” she said.
While Strickland said the fountain would also have had mental health benefits by providing a relaxing getaway on campus, this donation will have a more direct impact.
Rep. Christianna Johnson said everyone in the room during the Assembly meeting echoed the desire to fund the Counseling Center, which she said is under-funded and under-staffed.
“This gift will directly support the students and will have an immediate impact, and I think it is a legacy that all of us can be proud of right now,” Johnson said.
Johnson, along with three other ASUU Assembly representatives, sent out a survey about the fountain as a senior gift to several colleges on campus, where the majority of respondents opposed the idea.
While Strickland did not see the survey results, she collected data and found that most students agreed mental health was a popular theme for the senior class gift. She said it has been her priority to improve mental health on campus throughout the year, so the gift fit that theme.