Fredonia’s ‘Let’s Talk’ program receives SUNY Student Affairs award

Submitted Photo Proudly displaying Fredonia's SUNY Outstanding Student Affairs Award plaque are, from left, Director Tracy Stenger and Ivory Brooks of the Counseling Center and Khristian King, executive director of the Intercultural Center.

“Let’s Talk,” an outreach service at the State University of New York at Fredonia designed to reach students who may not seek mental health services, has received an Outstanding Student Affairs Program award from SUNY’s Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers and Office of University Life.

The campus’ Counseling Center and Intercultural Center launched the drop-in service in the Fall 2017 semester to provide easy access for students to informal confidential consultations with a counselor from the Counseling Center.

Ivory Brooks, a counselor, attended meetings of various campus organizations to introduce herself and the new program to students. “It’s important to have a presence when trying to build trust,” Ms. Brooks said.

“Let’s Talk” provides an opening for a student to raise a particular concern to a counselor, get assistance to solve a problem or learn more about services available at the Counseling Center. First-come, first-served sessions are free and are held twice a week at the Intercultural Center in Thompson Hall.

The 94 “Let’s Talk” visits during the inaugural year served 2 percent of the student population. It got off to a strong start, attracting a long line of students who wanted to meet with a counselor on the first day of operation. Many students returned for follow-up consultations, and appointments for formal counseling at the Counseling Center were made for 14 percent of the students.

Ms. Brooks indicated students were receptive to the program, based on positive feedback given in student surveys. “Students know there are people here who support them, and they can express their concerns and be heard,” Brooks said.

The program was developed with assistance from the Intercultural Center, Educational Development Program, Disability Support Services, International Student Services and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Informal meet-and-greets with Brooks and students were added to the program in the fall semester.

Fredonia based “Let’s Talk” on a similar program at Cornell University.

The new SUNY award comes on the heels of a 2017 Outstanding Student Affairs Award that recognized the campus food pantry. Fredonia’s Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program received the award in 2013.

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