The Undergraduate Council of Students met with the newly hired Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Will Meek, introduced next year’s UCS executive members and discussed the decision by UCS executive candidates not to seek The Herald’s endorsement at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday night.
Meek began the informal discussion with UCS by discussing his primary priorities for CAPS, including an increase in the speed of complete care, building on a previous CAPS initiative that made access to counseling faster.
“There’s not a concern about getting” an appointment, Meek said. Now that students have quicker access to CAPS, Meek seeks to offer faster complete care.
He also discussed a plan to restructure CAPS to create more leadership positions within the organization and add a CAPS office at Brown’s Alpert School of Medicine.
Additionally, Meek said he aims to increase diversity within CAPS as he did at University of Portland’s Health and Counseling Center. This made him an attractive candidate for Brown as they conducted their search for a new CAPS director, according to a previous Herald article.
He also discussed a plan to increase mental health advocacy within University departments, adding that mental health cannot be a goal only driven by CAPS.
“I’m really trying to bring in an energy so that we can think in a much broader way about what mental health looks like on campus,” Meek said.
In response to a number of questions from UCS members, Meek mentioned a desire to increase transparency and communication with students. For example, CAPS may create a social media presence, he said.
After the discussion with Meek, UCS President Viet Nguyen ’17 introduced the new executive members of UCS and the Undergraduate Finance Board. As previously reported by The Herald , Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 and Naveen Srinivasan ’19 both ran unopposed and will be next year’s UCS president and vice president, respectively. Yuzuka Akasaka ’18 and Drew To ’19 will head UFB as chair and vice chair, respectively.
Each was asked to talk about what they most look forward to in their upcoming term. Steele mentioned an excitement for self-growth and development. Camila Pelsinger ’20, next year’s chair of campus life, expressed a need for more student involvement in UCS.
“I am excited to get more of the student body to be active in UCS,” Pelsinger said. “A lot of people just don’t really know what UCS does. I think … a big part of what I want to do as chair of campus life is engage the campus and see what changes they want to make.”
As the meeting was about to close, a UCS member asked for clarification on the decision by Steele, Srinivasan and Akasaka not to seek an endorsement from The Herald. Steele reiterated that she felt The Herald should be held accountable for the pieces it publishes, referencing two racist columns The Herald published in fall 2015. She also mentioned that as a candidate who had pledged to support students from marginalized backgrounds at Brown, she could not accept an endorsement from The Herald.
Nguyen, who accepted The Herald’s endorsement when he ran for UCS president in 2016, mentioned that a change in public perception takes time, and the “changes that (The Herald) made this year, or even last year, might not change the perception,” he said.
UCS also passed a resolution that reconfirmed a number of organizations as Category 1 student groups, which are not eligible for any funding from UCS or the Undergraduate Finance Board, the financial arm of UCS. Members announced that the positions of chair of academic affairs, which went unfilled during the UCS election, and treasurer will be filled by internal appointments.