SDC + GLBT2 = BAD due to lack of $$$
By Anton Vidgen
Advocates for queer issues are upset over the lack of counselling services provided to queer students on campus and are demanding Western administration address the need.
The Student Development Centre currently has only one peer counsellor available for five hours a week to deal with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and "two-spirited" issues (GLBT2), said Julia Rady, Queerline commissioner for the University Students' Council. Rady said this was inadequate to meet the needs of GLBT2 students on campus, adding that in comparison, there are nine chaplains devoted to students' religious needs.
"It's a lack of a resource that needs to be utilized in this school," she said. "I think it speaks to an oversight of the gay Western community by the Western administration."
Rady also said the absence of funding limits the counsellor's ability to get his message out. "He's got no budget and therefore he cannot properly advertise his service to make people aware of what he offers," she said.
But Gail Hutchinson, director of the SDC, said no program the SDC offers has a set budget, adding the peer counselling service is treated like every other program.
In terms of advertising, Hutchinson said the GLBT2 service has been advertised over the years. "Like any place, we don't have much money," she added.
As for actual counselling services, the SDC's regular counsellors are educated to deal with GLBT2 issues and do so on a regular basis, she said. However the GLBT2 counsellor can deal with individuals on a confidential basis and can act as a resource to direct students to other services, she added.
If there was more demand for the service, the SDC would consider adding more staff to deal with such issues if funding would allow, Hutchinson said. "We have a lot of demand on our services like anyone else," she said.
"I am confident that the SDC is doing everything within their means to advertise this service," said USC VP-campus issues Adrienne Kennedy. "[But] if the demand is there, they should be making efforts to meet that demand."
Kennedy said some students might only be comfortable going to a GLBT2 counsellor, not just any counsellor. "The SDC should try and accommodate that need," she said.
Catherine Clune-Taylor, president of Queer Western Organization, said she agreed with Kennedy. "Ideally, I'd like to see a full-time counsellor, but in the very least, someone who is here more than once a week to deal specifically with GLBT2 issues."