On Monday, March 21st, CCE Fellows held the first “Café Conversation” of the semester. Café Conversations are discussions exclusively led by students, with the purpose of promoting free-flowing conversation about pertinent social and University issues without the pressure of a faculty/administrative presence. All Hofstra students are invited and encouraged to attend these conversations, as their purpose is to provide an outlet for students to express opinions that they may not feel comfortable sharing with faculty. The topic for this month’s conversation was the affordability of mental health care for college students, specifically focusing on psychological service options provided by the Saltzman Community Center at Hofstra. The conversation began with an overview of CCE and departmental involvement on campus, then was followed by an introduction to mental health services at Hofstra by CCE Fellow Taylor Robinson. Currently, Hofstra University provides counseling to both students and members of the surrounding community at the Saltzman Community Service Center by a staff of four psychologists, three graduate interns, and one extern. Their official statement on the Hofstra website reads:
“Any full or part-time undergraduate, graduate, law or medical school student currently enrolled at Hofstra University may utilize Student Counseling Services. Personal and educational counseling are available to all students at no cost for the first three sessions. A fee of $30 is charged for each counseling visit beyond the third session. Workshops and psychoeducational groups are provided at no cost.”
(Can be found at: http://www.hofstra.edu/community/slzctr/stdcsl/)
Summarized, this policy means that an initial intake assessment, used to determine the type and severity of treatment needed for an individual, plus the three consecutive sessions that follow are of no cost to students. After these initial sessions, students are required to pay $30 per session, without insurance acceptance or financial need based assistance. This policy lasts for your entire four years at Hofstra, and therapy sessions are capped after ten sessions are attended. As a means of comparison, Taylor did research on other schools in the area and the type of services that they provided to students. Comparative information was compiled from: Nassau Community College, LIU Post, Adelphi University, and Molloy College. Of these institutions, Hofstra had by far the highest tuition, and offered the fewest services across the board. Hofstra was also the only institution which required students to pay extra for psychological services, aside from their tuition, room, board, and university fees. Hofstra is also alone in that it offers only “short term treatment”, hence the ten session cap. It is also important to note that Hofstra does not have a psychiatrist on staff, meaning that Hofstra students cannot be prescribed medication by anyone working at the Saltzman center, a service that is provided by the majority of comparable universities.
Upon presentation of this information, students began a heated discussion on whether the university should be able to justify their sparse services while continuing to charge a nearly $40,000 individual tuition rate per year. Conclusively, it was determined that better access to mental health care is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy student population at Hofstra. Our next question was, what’s next? In typical civic engagement style, café conversation attendees brainstormed various plans of action, then distributed related tasks to each student present. Although only in its beginning stages, this conversation not only educated, but inspired action. It is through these combined efforts that reformation will be promoted, and hopefully occur in the near future.