10/28/10: Letters to the Editor

Counseling Center offers support

The recent Consensus Opinion appearing in the Technique (“Time of Contemplation” [printed Oct. 8]) sheds light on the tragic reality of suicide, the difficulty that others face in seeking counseling, and the need to provide additional information and services. For over 30 years, the Georgia Tech Counseling Center has been dedicated to enhancing the academic experience and personal success of all students by providing a variety of short-term counseling and psychological services to students and the campus community. Our services include individual, group and couples counseling that address a wide range of concerns. Services include emergency and after-hours counseling and consultation, educational programming, testing and assessment, and referral services. Counseling services are available at no charge to currently enrolled students and testing and assessment services are available to our clients for a modest fee.

The majority of the Center’s service is dedicated to individual counseling (75.7 percent); group counseling and couples counseling comprise a smaller proportion (22.9 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively). The counseling staff gives thoughtful and intentional consideration to the type of services we recommend to each student who comes to the Center. In general, students report that counseling (whether through individual, group or couples modality) helps them to make significant gains in alleviating the overall distress of their concerns.

Since 2005, the Counseling Center has experienced significant increases in the number of students seeking counseling, resulting in an average increase of 13.48 percent between 2005-2009. During this year alone, the Center has experienced a 12 percent increase from last year in the number of new students seeking services.

From 2005-2009, the Center’s Outreach Program averaged a total of 191 outreach/educational programs, including our Stress Management Series. The Center has also been responsive to academic departments, student groups and organizations in times of crisis. The Center has also made available three videos on how to assist students in distress that are available on the Counseling Center’s website at www.counseling.gatech.edu.

However, the impact of our services is only as effective as those who are knowledgeable and ready to take part in counseling. The stigma of counseling continues to be a real concern that prevents some from seeking help. This stigma rests in perceived social misconceptions and in cultural and gender differences regarding help-seeking. A deleterious effect of this stigma is the way in which individuals with mental health concerns internalize the socialized stigma that can result in a reluctance to seek help, or even worse.

The Counseling Center needs everyone’s help to inform others of the Center’s services and to dispel the stigma of counseling. It is important that we all take part in creating a campus culture of caring and support; that we promote a spirit of encouragement rather than discouragement; that we recognize the strength in the diversity of our campus and celebrate and affirm our differences. A campus climate of caring and support goes a long way to ease the stresses, to manage the conflicts, and to help others in need.

Ruperto M. Perez
Director, Counseling Center

UHR serves the students of Tech

In the Oct. 8 edition of the Technique, an article in the opinions section [“Changes Warrented”] made a number of suggestions regarding SGA’s policies and practices with regards to the allocation of the Student Activity Fee (SAF). While this letter does not attempt to invalidate some of the concerns that have been raised, it does intend to address some of the concerns about the nature of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR).

Each year, the SGA is entrusted with the funds from the Student Activity Fee, which amounts to nearly $5 million. At the end of the spring semester, the majority of those funds are allocated through the budget process to the Student Center, Campus Recreation Center, and over 100 student organizations. The remaining funds are allocated the following academic year through the bill process.

This year, after the budget approval process, SGA was left with $247,038 in its Prior Year Account and $580,192 in its Capital Outlay Account. Thus although $5 million is allocated by the UHR annually, only $827,230 can be spent from August 2010 through May 2011 through the bill process. This money can go quickly, and to avoid emptying any accounts, representatives strive to be fiscally responsible.

There is an underlying assumption that only bills requesting large sums of money are discussed at length, but it is not unusual for the House to spend 45 minutes or more on bills requesting fewer than $1000. Regardless of the amount of funding requested in a bill, representatives strive to focus on certain pertinent factors during its consideration. These factors include the number of members in the club, the potential for the bill to improve student life or Georgia Tech, and most importantly, whether or not our constituents would agree with the allocation of an amount of the SAF for the proposed purpose.

The Technique article voices a concern about the discussion on a bill requesting nearly $27,000 in SAF funds. The House debated the bill for over 45 minutes. Many questions were asked of the organizational representatives about which line items were more crucial and time dependent. Time was given to the club to explain their request and which line items took priority. In the end, after a week of speaking to constituents and 45 minutes of discussion on the bill, a portion of the requested amount was approved in an effort to be fiscally responsible and to allocate the students’ money in the best way possible.

SGA strives to help every student organization meet its mission and goals through the responsible allocation of the SAF, but organizations should be mindful of SGA’s limitations and attempt to find alternative sources of revenue when possible. Submitting a bill to SGA should be an organization’s last resort. Clubs should try to obtain corporate sponsorship, host fundraising events, increase membership dues, or seek out donations, especially for large events or items.

SGA works hard to help you and your organization in any way possible, so please do not hesitate to contact your representatives with any questions or concerns that you have about any campus issue or financial request. Like all other forms of government SGA is not perfect; however what sets us apart is that we make an active effort to make life better for our fellow students. Our priorities are to represent the student body and responsibly allocate your Student Activity Fees, so we want to hear from you, our fellow students.

Travis Wagner
UHR Secretary

Extremist hurt their own religion

I understand that there is a reasoning for allowing extremist preachers to present their offensive views at Tech. The thinking is that if students dislike people who are threatened by diversity, then the students themselves will become more accepting of diversity. The reasoning seems fine till one actually attends these events. For every offensive claim the preacher makes, the students become more extreme and aggressive in their response. So by the end, the students are forced to conclude that Christianity is dumb and illogical. Instead of resulting in all students being more receptive to diversity, the students find themselves not being acceptive of religion.

However, I do not understand how the administration is unable to notice this problem. Imagine if an extremist Muslim group asked for permission to present their views at Tech. This would obviously not be allowed because the administration would not want the students to believe the stereotype that all Muslims are extremists. Rather, Tech would invite Islamic scholars who emphasize the humanity in Islam. The current issue is similar, although less severe. Because certain extremist Christian groups have rejected science based on little to no fact, the stereotype of the “dumb intolerant Christian” is readily available. Unfortunately, these extremist preachers conform to this stereotype, pushing the students to believe that the preachers represent all of Christianity.

I hope that the students reading this understand that if we conclude that all Christians are bigots, then we are being bigots ourselves. And I hope that the administration notices the issue and considers inviting preachers who emphasize the humanity and philanthropy in Christianity.

Azeem Bande-Alii
Second-year PHYS

Mass transit offers more options than mentioned

While I completely agree with the premise of Kate Comstock’s article [“Public Transportation” printed Oct. 8] about how public transportation in Atlanta is for the most part disjointed and ineffective, there are some gaps in how she addressed the issues. Contrary to her claim that in order to get to Cobb County, you must take MARTA out of the city and transfer to CCT, CCT commuter buses actually operate all the way to downtown weekday mornings and afternoons, and CCT routes 10, 30, and 35 operate well into Atlanta. 10 comes all the way to Arts Center MARTA station one stop north of Tech Square.

I would also like to point out that the State of Georgia contributes no money to the MARTA system, making it the largest public transit agency in the nation to receive no operational funding from the state, so the downturn in state tax revenue should not have had a significant effect on MARTA.

Brian Pogioli
First-year AE