Counseling Center Needs More Availability for Students

The Counseling Center at the University of Illinois tries to be an accessible place to help students deal with everything from academic to interpersonal concerns.

Allison Flores, 21, a junior in communications, had a couple of appointments her freshman year but was suddenly told to seek treatment elsewhere.

“They basically said I had a lot of issues and they weren’t equipped to deal with them so I would have to find someone outside of campus to go see,” says Flores.

She was diagnosed with two issues common to students, but was still refused care. Flores, who is from the north suburbs of Chicago, explains that it is hard to find good mental health care that is convenient in Champaign, and being turned away from somewhere on campus that is supposed to be accessible to all students made a huge impact on her.

“They made me feel worse about what was going on than I did before,” says Flores.

Flores is now seeing a professional near her home but says that having a resource at school would have helped her much more because of the close proximity to care. She has not tried the Counseling Center or other Illinois mental health services since she was turned away and says she probably will not again.

“They did not treat me as fairly as I thought they should,” she says.

Mental health on college campuses has been a topic of concern across the country. Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus, according to the latest survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. Two-thirds of students who are struggling do not even seek treatment.

Campus mental health resources hope to help this problem, with accessibility being the main draw. The Counseling Center’s location just off the Quad even demonstrates this attempted availability. Even though the Counseling Center had a reported 12,700 appointments scheduled in the 2016-2017 school year, some students say even getting these appointments may be tough.

Junior in computer science Yoshi Komiya, 21, has used the Counseling Center before but says making initial appointments can be difficult for students.

“To make just the first appointment, you have to call at 7 am and hope for an appointment opening which you then have to make later the same day. This was hard for me because when I really needed help, I couldn’t just make an appointment in the week to plan around.”

Komiya says he went to a few appointments and liked his counselor, but thinks the process to initially get help should be easier.

Yoshi Komiya, 22, junior from San Jose, CA

“Maybe students should be able to call anytime during the day to book an appointment. Students are so busy and need convenience, and that might make them seek help more.”

The Counseling Center offers many different kinds of counseling, from groups to individual sessions. These can be used for a variety of problems students face. Senior Sahran Hussain, 21, attended several group sessions at the Center last year, but says he did not have much choice in the matter.

“They forced me into group sessions, when I was really only comfortable with individual sessions, and even told them that,” he says.

Group sessions can be helpful in counseling, but pushing uncomfortable students towards these more open types of therapy can cause anxiety.

The availability of appointments was also an issue for Hussain.

“They only had appointments two or three weeks after I wanted them. Having to call at 7 AM was a hassle as well,” he says.

Hussain eventually stopped going to the Center as he did not want to attend more group sessions, and could not get more immediate one-on-one appointments. He was disappointed in the care that he received there.

“I think the Counseling Center is a great idea, but it needs to be a little more available and open to students and all their concerns. They did not really listen to what I was comfortable with,” he says.

If students need help on campus, the Counseling Center is supposed to provide that resource. It does provide a 24-hour emergency consultation service collaboratively with McKinley Mental Health Department and the Champaign County Mental Health Department.

While this school resource is designed to help students, it seems that more could be done to make it accessible to the people it is designed to help the most. Mental health is a huge concern for young adults, and the pressures of school can become too much.

The University of Illinois also offers mental health services and appointment at McKinley Health Center. Students seeking help are urged to call McKinley at (217) 333-2701 or the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704. For emergencies, contact the Police Department immediately or Suicide Prevention Team at the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 during the office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).


Increasing amount of seniors

  • Admissions finally got back to me, and told me that they “did not have access to the information” regarding incoming AP credits and class standing.
  • Interviewed Jack Grayeb, a senior in Civil Engineering who will be getting his Master’s next year here with the 4+1 program, briefly and will have another interview later today. Some interesting points from his first interview:
    • “Only about 25-30 seniors are admitted to this Master’s program from each department. It’s really selective, but a great way to complete your education faster and get a higher degree from a great Engineering program.”
    • “This is a really popular program in Engineering, and is offered for a bunch of different engineering from Chemical to Civil.”

Affidavit Reveals More Information in High School Sexual Misconduct Case

An affidavit released today details the alleged sexual misconduct between Christopher Young, a 45-year-old teacher and coach at Peabody-Burns High School, and a female student starting in late 2017.

Young and the student, according to the documents, engaged in what she described as a “consensual” relationship for several months. Young even gave the student a “promise ring.”

Peabody-Burns High School administration reported that they had also observed suspicious behavior on school grounds by Young, including surveillance video of him with the student in a hallway alcove during class time. The student was also observed alone with Young in his locked classroom before school hours.

Young and the student would spend nights in his trailer and meet in his workshop. Young would even sneak into her home at night through her window.

Police were informed of the relationship when a close friend of victim came forward to Bruce Burke, Chief of Police.

Young’s family, a wife and two children, allegedly knew of the misconduct. Friends and family of the victims were also aware of the relationship and expressed concern.

Following the report, a search warrant was executed for both Young and the student’s phones. Police found explicit photos and text messages detailing the affair, along with evidence of the involvement of another female student including “threesomes.”

Young was charged with eight felonies for unlawful sexual relations with minors. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 6th.


Follow up:

  • Talk to fellow teachers and coaches to see if they suspected anything
  • Ask students in his class how they feel about him/this happening
  • Ask parents if this changes feelings about school

Local Mother Killed by Rock Thrown from Overpass

An object thrown from an overpass has killed a motorist for the second time in a year. Emily Sawyer died after an estimated 10-pound piece of granite crashed through her windshield. The 43-year-old mother of three was struck in the head by the rock while driving on I-74 Saturday.

Police received reports of  young males throwing rocks off an overpass around the time of the incident.  After Sawyer was stuck in the head, her car continued until it finally crashed into a protective railing. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

A similar accident killed Urbana lawyer Samuel T. Howe last year. A can of gasoline dropped from an overpass on Windsor Road onto I-57 caused him to lose control of his vehicle.

Sawyer was pronounced DOA at Carle Foundation Hospital. Sawyer’s mother, Celine Taylor, was treated for a broken arm and bruising following the accident. Sawyer had been driving Taylor to church in Danville, as she had every Saturday since the death of her father four years ago.

Taylor’s sisters, Felicity Shrove and Donna Taylor, spoke in a joint statement Saturday and called for fences to be erected on all overpasses.

“This was a senseless tragedy. Emily was a wonderful mother and caring daughter. Who would do this to a perfect stranger, just for kicks? It could have been any one of us or any of our kids. We hope that steps can be taken to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

Police are urging anyone with information about the accident to call Champaign County Crime Stoppers at (217) 373-8477.

Broadcast leads:

Police are seeking more information about an incident that killed a Champaign mother. Emily Sawyer died Saturday after being stuck by an estimated 10-pound granite slab that fell from an overpass onto I-74. Young males were reportedly throwing debris from an overpass onto the freeway around the same time. This is the second such incident in the past year.

In the second such incident this year, a Champaign mother died after being struck by a 10-pound granite rock that fell from an overpass. According to police, young males were seen throwing debris from an overpass before the incident.

Graduate students call for better treatment

Monday saw the start of the GEO strike at the University of Illinois, with picket lines crossing the Quad and closing off heavily trafficked areas of campus. Graduate students are striking to demand the continuation of tuition waivers and higher wages from the University.

For many graduate students, this negotiation decides whether they are able to continue teaching and learning at the university. Itzel Marshall, a graduate student in library science who is proudly participating in the strike, explained she cannot afford to be here if graduate students and the university do not come to a resolution.

“I am just like most undergraduate students, here to learn, and school is too expensive for me without waivers,” she said.

“My program is the #1 in the world, yet we don’t have guaranteed tuition waivers or assistantships for students. For me, it means I have to pay $20,000 a year out of pocket for tuition alone. I’ll graduate with my masters with over an extra $50,000 in debt, despite working thoughout my entire college career.”

Marshall commutes from Indianapolis three times a week to attend classes and work. She leaves her husband and child at home to come here for an education and struggles to have enough time with them, as she works every day she is on campus. These large personal sacrifices are steps she must take so that she can support herself and her education.

She says “I have to work here on campus at Espresso Royale to support my family and education as well, but without a better wage or tuition waivers I cannot make enough from that job alone.”

Marshall explains she has two other part time jobs besides this one, and needs them just to pay rent.

She adds, “There’s no reason the money this school generates shouldn’t be used to fund graduate students, most of whom are working for the school.”

Marshall encourages all students to understand the issues around the strike, and try to support their fellow students at the University.

“Most classes could not run without TAs,” she says.

Marshall also expresses discontent at the university’s handling of the strike, a sentiment she says echoes through most GEO members. While the school may be trying to project that it is bargaining fairly with graduate students, Marshall explains she and her peers see an alternate side.

She says, “We find it sickening that the university is trying to withhold fair wages and healthcare from us while sending out notices to the campus trying to make it sound like they are truly bargaining in good faith. They are trying to bust our union.”

She urges undergraduate students not to cross picket lines, and asks undergraduate students to “Join us, or support us in our strike!”

She adds “The strike will continue until we win. Not if.”




Fraternity member fights sexual assault from the inside

Fraternities have often come under fire on college campuses nowadays. These organizations are frequently attacked and under investigation but Sam Braganca, a junior in political science, is hoping to change some of that culture from the inside out.

Braganca, 21, is an active member of Psi Upsilon fraternity, and has been since his freshman year. He loves fraternity life, social events, and spending time with his brothers. But in his spare time, he also volunteers as a FYCARE facilitator.

Braganca became a facilitator after a close friend was sexually assaulted his freshman year.

“It made me angry that no one had done anything to stop it or help. That’s when I knew it was something I wanted to be able to help other people in that situation with, and being in a fraternity I also saw it as a good way to educate others.”

Braganca said this event also inspired him to pay more attention to events at house parties or other places where drinking is prevalent. But he also thinks the program is an essential way to educate incoming freshman about potentially dangerous situations.

He says that incoming freshmen may not be fully aware of the extent of the drinking culture at U of I, especially in the Greek system. The FYCARE program allows them to learn ways to protect themselves and their friends when in situations where alcohol is prevalent.

FYCARE, or First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education, is an interactive workshop that educates all incoming freshman at the school about how to help survivors of sexual assault, how to spot signs of it, how to help, and many other topics related to sexual assault on campus.

Braganca sees his involvement in the program as a way to help change some of the darker parts of fraternity culture.

“By facilitating, I have been trained to spot signs of sexual assault and know how to talk to victims and perpetrators. I think I can help keep more people safe, especially out of frat houses and in bars where many assaults happen. This is a huge part of the reason I wanted to facilitate.”

Braganca says that FYCARE has taught him how to step in when the situation requires it, and also says that being a part of the program has made him much more aware of his surroundings.

“Once more students are aware of or trained in how to approach these kind of situations, bars and [fraternity] houses will be much safer because of increased awareness in sexual assault issues.”

Braganca explains that not only fraternity houses should be under fire. He says many of his female friends and people he has met through the FYCARE program have dealt with similar issues at bars. These social spots on campus are home to copious amounts of alcohol and many young people, not all of who have good intentions.

“FYCARE says that 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault in their time on campus, but having talked to a lot of people, I think that number is closer to 1 in 3 or 1 in 4. This is a serious problem that we need to do something about,” says Braganca.

He explains that this year, there are 3 FYCARE facilitators in his fraternity alone. He also says he is seeing a lot more fraternity involvement in the program.

“I think people are taking notice of these problems, and (fraternity) houses want to do something to help, and keep people that are going to their houses safe.”

Kevin Conrad, 21, a fellow junior in Psi Upsilon and a close friend, says Braganca’s involvement has inspired others in the fraternity to take more notice of these issues.

“There is a definite distrust on campus towards fraternities, but Sam is really good about pointing out potential issues that may come up and making sure everyone feels safe at events. A lot of fellow brothers have taken notice, and we try to make sure girls are always comfortable at our events.”

To become a FYCARE facilitator, students must take Community Health 199B: CARE (Campus Acquaintance Rape Education), a 3-credit hour class that prepares students to oversee one of these important workshops.

Braganca reminds students to take FYCARE and other sexual misconduct training seriously.

“Actively thinking about spotting many issues mentioned in these workshops instead of blowing them off could help protect you or your friends.”


Rosenstein case fallout is focus of senate meeting

The handling of the sexual harassment case against Professor Jay Rosenstein, especially his place on leave, was centerstage at a Senate meeting Monday night.  Allegations that Rosenstein is banned from campus, and that due process was not followed were raised. Staff talked about the University’s handling of the case as well as the continuous use of the Chief as a symbol on campus.

Rosenstein was arrested for filming a Chief Illiniwek supporter in the bathroom at an Illini basketball game on January 22.

Professor David O’Brien from the College of Fine and Applied Arts and Assistant Professor from Department of Religion, Bruce Rosenstock, both expressed concern that the case was not handled lawfully or fairly. Rosenstock even went on to say that Rosenstein was not even allowed to step or speak on campus, an allegation Chancellor Jones denied.

Staff also talked about Chief Illiniwek, and the former mascot’s continued appearance and influence on the school. This representation continues to bring offense to the Native American community, and even is a form of embarrassment to the school. Jones said that First Amendment rights made it impossible for the school to keep the image from appearing on shirts and other merchandise.

“Car Tag” to Blame for Crash that send 4 to Local Hospitals

Four people were taken to local hospitals Tuesday after an accident at a Hillsboro intersection. According to Hillsboro police chief Dan Kinning, the teenagers were playing a game of “car tag” when both cars involved attempted a left turn at the intersection of Grand Ave. and Date St.

“One car went short and one went wide,” Kinning said.

A Volkswagon Beetle, driven by 18 year old Kassidy Trapani, ended up wrapped around a tree. The first vehicle, a Dodge Dakota which was chasing Trapani according to the police report, was driven by 17 year old Kolton Harms.

Trapani and Ryleigh Peterson, 13, were taken to Hillsboro Community Hospital with moderate injuries. Jasmine Copenhaver, 15, and Anna Baugh, 16, were transported to St. Luke’s with lesser injuries.

A fifth patient, 13 year old Fillow Cruz, fled the scene in unknown condition. He was later located at his home and checked for injury by Hillsboro firefighters.

Kinning warned of the dangers of car tag, telling drivers “Not only should they consider their own welfare and welfare of those who are with them, but the welfare of people who share the street with them.”

Book Signing with author of Grace’s Mirror: Healing For Perfectionists

The Urbana Free Library will be hosting a book signing with Dan E. Ferguson, author of Grace’s Mirror: Healing For Perfectionists, on Wednesday, February 14th, at 7 p.m.

Ferguson’s book offers psychological and Biblical advice for perfectionists. He focuses on healing and recovery, and offers guidance. Many people have perfectionist tendencies, and this book is aimed at helping overcome the mental toll of perfectionism.

Ferguson has been the pastor of the Douglass United Methodist Church in Kansas since 2015. He also has a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation in pastoral counseling.

This event will be held in the conference room. Everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information call the Urbana Free Library at (217) 367-4057.

Shari Flaming Center for the Arts to be Completed Debt Free

Tabor College announced that the new Shari Flaming Center for the Arts, which was dedicated and opened in early December, has succeeded in raising the final $150,000 in additional funds needed to complete the project debt free. The project has taken 6 years of fundraising, 18 months of construction, and over $13.6 million in total to complete.

The center is a long overdue attraction for the community, as Vice President of advancement Richard Braun explains “This is a very exciting time on campus. Some of our alumni and supporters have been waiting more than 50 years to have an auditorium and dedicated performance space on campus. This is truly a dream come true.” Over $4 million  contributed to the center was from local people in the Hillsboro area.

The community has already been very engaged since the center’s opening on December 9, with over 800 people attending a packed dedication ceremony at Richert Auditorium.

The Center will host public art shows and performances showcasing both student art and guests. A weekly chapel service will also be held in the building for the campus community.