Board of Trustees approves fee increases, talks mental health on campus

The Board of Trustees meeting from February 27th (Coco Ma/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees unanimously decided to increase the general university fund fee and to implement the recreation center fee for undergraduate students Wednesday morning. The board also discussed mental health programs on campus in the wake of increased mental health issues reported by students. 

The increases include a $46 per semester increase in the general university fee, which is used for “all the things that aren’t available in the classroom,” UConn Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan said. It will cover contractual salary increases for staff on campus.  

Other increases include greater fees for several master’s degree programs, including law, engineering and nursing, as well as increases to the Stamford campus housing fee.  

While the rec center fee, which will be $250 per semester for undergraduates and $200 for graduate students, was approved in 2013, the implementation of the fee was only to begin when the building opened. The fee will be used to pay back the $100 million bond taken out for construction. 

“The fee will pay that debt over thirty years, and help support physical maintenance and operations of the building,” Jordan said. “The university will be putting aside a portion of that fee… for renewal [and repair]. We intend for this rec center to be for life.” 

The fee is mandatory for all students, Jordan said.  

“The fee is not waived for [anyone],” Jordan said. “We promised the fee to our bondholders. We have to charge it.” 

The graduate student fee, which is $50 less per year than the undergraduate fee, is lower because graduate students will not utilize the center as much, Jordan said. Additionally, graduate and teaching assistants can choose to have a contractual pay increase to offset the fee, Jordan said.  

The board also heard a presentation on student mental health by Dean of Students Eleanor Daugherty. 

In her presentation, Daugherty highlighted the need for mental health services and support for students, saying the number of students with anxiety and depression has greatly increased in the past decade. As well, more than 70 percent of students report feeling “overwhelmed,” more than 40 percent report feelings of anxiety and/or loneliness and 4.3 percent report experiencing suicide ideation. 

“Our work now is to develop a culture of care on campus, so we can deal with students feeling overwhelmed,” Daugherty said. “They are feeling above-average stress, they are feeling a sense of anxiety and loneliness.” 

Ten percent of the Storrs population uses Counseling and Mental Health Services, Daugherty said. Because of this, both the CMHS staff and the mental health staffs at regional campuses have grown. 

“That has allowed us to bolster work that’s incredibly important, specifically psychiatric services in patients,” Daugherty said. “They do triage, risk assessment, referral and wellness education.” 

In addition to this, the university has partnered with several organizations on campus to help promote mental health wellness, Daugherty said, including the Undergraduate Student Government, which has been pushing for mental health legislation at the state capitol and hosting mental health education courses. As well, courses in meditation and sunset yoga on Horsebarn Hill during the warmer months are increasingly popular. 

“We know we’re onto something if people are showing up to Horsebarn Hill,” Daughtery said.


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.