Students of UAA have the ability to visit the Student Health and Counseling Center to receive a large variety of services that benefit them both physically and mentally.
However, the center lacks a dedicated professional that specializes in religious counseling. UAA should invest in an official part-time chaplain to continue to promote good health on campus.
In religious, as well as secular, schools chaplains provide essential services that are irreplaceable. Stanford University, the University of Portland, Barton College and Rhodes College are all institutions of higher education that employ a chaplain or its equivalent for the benefit of its students mental and spiritual health.
The National Association of of College and University Chaplains, a non-profit organization providing professional fellowships for chaplains on university or college campuses, states that a chaplain is a formal official within an organization who provides religious guidance, counseling and directing when consulted.
Secular counseling is very valuable, as a Christian student who is experiencing a conflict of faith or emotional distress at church may not find what he or she needs in a secular counselor. A chaplain would be better suited to aid religious students in times of distress when the nature of their problem is religious. Religious crises are very similar to secular crises, both can cause emotional distress to students and harm their mental health.
If UAA were to hire a part-time chaplain, the position should be included in the SHCC as part of their access to counselors. In order to provide revenue for a part-time chaplain, the Student Health and Counseling Services Fee should include an additional $2 surcharge, from $14 to $16, to be paid for by all students. This would also mean the maximum total would need to be raised to $170 opposed to $168.
UAA uses student fees to fund projects and services that benefit small portions of students all the time. Every semester, UAA students who took a minimum of six credits paid an Athletic/Sports Complex Fee. Whether or not that student ever went to a volleyball game or set foot in the school gyms, they paid for the service.
UAA students also pay for a Transportation Fee. This fee allows UAA students to ride the People Mover and Valley Transit for free as well as funds the shuttle system on campus. Some students do not need the services for the transportation fee, but they pay for the right to use the service anyways.
The chaplain should be provided on the same principles. Some UAA students will not need or use the service, but some will. Just like the gym and the buses everyone should pitch in and contribute to a helpful service.
Religious clubs on UAA’s campus include Chi Alpha, Mosaic, Cru and Wisdom, with a combined weekly attendance that is consistently greater than 200. These are only the students who attend public religious clubs, and there are likely more who attend religious services off-campus. These students matter as much as others who are part of the UAA community, and a spiritual advisor and counselor could be beneficial to them and others.