Stop the cuts to graduate student mental health services at McMaster University

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Stop the cuts to graduate student mental health services at McMaster University

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Dear Dr. Patrick Deane,

On March 31, graduate students voted overwhelmingly to reject the McMaster University administration’s proposed supplementary fee protocol, which was presented and debated at the Graduate Student Association’s (GSA’s) Annual General Meeting.

The proposed protocol — lobbied for on behalf of the administration by the Associate Vice-President and Dean of Students, Sean Van Koughnett — was intended to provide improvements to mental health, personal counselling, and career services, but would have resulted in a significant increase in the fees paid by graduate students each term.

As a result of voting against the proposal, graduate students now face cuts to these services, and this is putting the lives of many students at risk.

Graduate students support and depend upon these services, but cannot afford to be put any further into debt. University administrators must begin to acknowledge the connection between increasingly unsustainable debt levels experienced by students and the growing crisis in mental health.

We, the undersigned, believe that there is an alternative to downloading the costs for these services onto the backs of those least able to pay, and that involves the university increasing its own financial investment into the health and wellbeing of its students and workers.

We agree with Sean Van Koughnett when he says that “without these support services, it makes your academic success much more difficult. In some cases, for some students, it's absolutely critical that they have access to these services. They wouldn't be here without them.” 

That is why we are calling on the McMaster University administration to:

1. Immediately stop and reverse the planned cuts to mental health, personal counselling, and career services for graduate students; and

2.  Allocate new funds in the upcoming 2015/16 operating budget to reflect a principled commitment to the mental health and wellness of all of the university's students and workers



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