A boost in mental health services come as social injustice grows across the country. Photo by Carlos Martinez.
By Robert Rios, Campus Editor
The current proposed health fee has many students uncertain about paying the new amount, that if passed will increase from $75 to $130 per semester starting Fall 2021.
The fee increase was first proposed in 2016 by Student Health (SH) and Psychological Services (PS) to the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) but was denied, and brought up again this semester. Since the beginning of February, CSUDH has been taking student feedback by hosting open Zoom forums on the plan to have a higher cost in health services which is to start in Fall 2021.
At last week’s CSUDH Academic Senate meeting, Associated Student Inc., Vice President of Academic Affairs, Jonathan Mancio Molina reported that the reason some students were not in favor of the fee hike was because they believed that money could be derived from other sources, such as campus police.
Some students who arrived at one of the zoom meetings were advocating for the health center to receive the funds for the fee from other on-campus budgets like the campus police.
“I believe students are not against the fees, we know we need an expansion from mental health resources,” Kata Roldan Morales, a student who attended the Zoom forum said. “However, it shouldn’t come out of our pockets considering financial instability is a primary stressor for QTBIPOC communities especially now during a global pandemic.”
Morales, a senior studying in Chicanx and sociology, explained to the Bulletin that the CSUDH Chief of Police, Carlos Velez was in attendance in their zoom forum, but when they asked him for some “transparency” about the budget, he had no response, nor did the ASI representatives in the meeting.
Another student who spoke with the Bulletin shared similar issues with concerns over the spike claiming that the increase is “unfair.”
“It’s ridiculous that they’re planning on making these payment fees go up and we’re not even attending campus at the moment,’ Carolina Reyes, a junior majoring in criminal justice said. “Why can’t they help us out by taking that service out while we’re not on campus? I think we as students should come together and petition this.”
The topic of defunding police at CSU’s has been an ongoing discussion.New CSU Chancellor Joseph I Castro has said recently at his recent virtual visit to CSUDH, Castro does not plan on defunding campus police as he wants to protect the empty campuses. Castro told the Daily Forty-Niner he does “not see any significant decreases in investment in that area.”
If approved, According to the Health Services Fee website, the proposed increase would expand Student Psychological Services’ capacity to meet the growing mental health needs of students. The last time the service fee was increased was in 2006. The website also states that the CSUDH health fee is the lowest fee in the CSU system. The new fee would still be below the system average.
“The fee is important because it will allow the ability to not only maintain the quality service that we provide but to expand the ways in which we are able to support students,” Interim Administrator of the Student Health Center, Tiffany Herbert said in an email with the Bulletin. “We can add additional psychologists, provide mental health technology resources, and add student internship opportunities.
Herbert also mentioned that with more workers on campus, they would be able to reduce the wait time for students for an appointment.
One of the reasons the school is implementing the fee is due to the 3.8 million deficit that was collected as of June 30, 2020. The university found the situation was “insurmountable.” Without the funds to get rid of the cost, the health service deficit would grow by approximately $800,000 annually.
It was presented in the forum that the “university determined that eliminating the rolling deficit would be a necessary step.”
“Student Health and Student Psychological Services remain the primary physical and mental providers of choice, even if students have health insurance coverage,” Herbert said. “We firmly believe that a student’s access to convenient and affordable health services on campus is great value and benefit to all members of our campus community.”
The additional fee is expected to assist Student Psychological Services by hiring four additional psychologists, expand its education and outreach efforts, and provide educational and internship experiences for students.
The decision to accept the proposal will be made by CSUDH President Thomas A Parham.
If CSUDH students wish to solicit feedback about the fee please email HSFIncrease@csudhl.edu