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Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Intercom proposes student concerns
By John-Mark Day
Staff Reporter

A new focus on student transition out of college and a proposed wellness center will likely come out of last week’s meeting of the Student Relations committee of the Board of Trustees, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills said Friday.

The committee met with members of Intercom, a student organization made up of the leaders of 14 different campus organizations on Thursday. The committee then presented ideas to the board Friday morning.

The Student Relations committee discussed topics including recycling, career services and voter registration, but most discussion focused around what Intercom called the “upperclassman experience.”

“There has been a great success with first-year programs to the point where I think all the other classes are looked over,” Intercom member Raquel Torres said. “Seniors have special needs, too.”

These special needs include improved career services and an emphasis on the transition from students to alumni.

Intercom member Kyle Gore introduced the idea of a senior capstone class. The proposed class, similar to one already in place by the Leadership Center, would focus on networking, career skills and financial planning. The current class has 25 members out of the entire senior class, Intercom member Katherine Berry said.

This type of class is necessary because TCU focuses on helping freshmen succeed, but does not do as much to prepare students for the professional life after college, Gore said.

“After their freshman year, it seems most students kind of get lost,” Gore said.

Trustee and Student Relations committee Chair Clarence Scharbauer III said he agreed that seniors need help making the transition to life after college. He said his daughter, a TCU senior, was dealing with many of the issues the class would address.

“I have a senior here now, so I’m living with you,” Scharbauer said.

TCU sponsors a two-day seminar for seniors before classes start in January, but Gore said it is too late to help him. The seminar teaches students how to look for a job and manage money.

“Some of the information I’m going to learn come January would probably be helpful to me now,” Gore said.

Intercom members called for the help of the alumni association in leading the classes as mentors and teachers.

Trustee Laura Miller said it was important for seniors to work with the alumni association, especially in a tightened economy. She said the alumni association could be a resource for students and not just a purple sticker on their car.

“We are in a very necessarily self-absorbed time,” Miller said. “Your four years here are going to pale in comparison to your 60 to 65 years as an alum.”

Scharbauer said if students support it, senior programming could be put into action. He said it was up to the members of Intercom to map out the details of the class and present it to Mills.

The committee also focused on the creation of a new wellness center to combine Mental Health Services, alcohol and drug education and faculty training.

Intercom member Ceci Burton said TCU needs to look at training faculty and staff to recognize the warning signs of depression. Burton said 14.5 percent of TCU students surveyed after their freshman year reported feeling depressed, including, she said, 26.7 percent of male students.

Heather Patriacca, an Intercom member, said the counseling center is seeing a higher number of students and needs more resources. Peer counselors and increased staff are possible ways to improve the center, she said.

Patriacca said five years ago the counseling center had 2,100 visits a year. Last year, the center had 6,150 visits, she said.

Scharbauer said he spent Friday morning presenting the ideas to other trustees. He said he expected TCU to move quickly on the suggestions.

Mills said the trustees supported the committee’s ideas, and now he will look at creating programs based on Intercom’s suggestions for a senior capstone class and a new wellness center.

“Clearly there was an interest (in the committee’s ideas),” Mills said. “Now we take ideas that have been confirmed by the trustees and put them into action.”

John-Mark Day


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