Lives over strikes


[1AB] Sander van der WelWEBIn recent events, professional and technical employees at the University of Regina have voted to go on strike. Generally, I wouldn’t really care that people are striking at the U of R, because I honestly don’t care about university politics. However, the counselling program on campus is part of the professional and technical employees who are striking. This fact bothers me. If this strike leads to programs, such as the counselling department, getting shut down for a time until financial needs are met, the students at the U of R who struggle with various mental health issues are basically screwed.

So, what kind of mental health issues do students face? Hmmm, well let’s see. Depression? Yup. Anxiety? Oh yes. Addiction? Absolutely. And how about financial stress, anorexia, bulimia, A.D.D., insomnia, self-injury, BiPolar and phobias? The list goes on. I’m not saying that all students at the U of R struggle with these issues. I’m saying that those who do, need the support of counselling services – services that should in no way, shape, or form be taken away by something as futile as a strike. If students didn’t suffer from mental illness, there wouldn’t even need to be a counselling services center on campus in the first place. This service exists for a purpose, and it needs to stay available to students even in the event of a strike.

How can this program stay available if it is part of the strike? I have no idea. But, the U of R better figure it out somehow, because students’ lives, health, and well-being are at stake. And, let’s not forget, students’ health is far more important than wage increases. You know you live in a corrupt, messed up world when people are more concerned with money than they are about how their actions will deeply affect those they serve.

Now, some may say, “well, if the counselling center is closed down during the strike, students can just go off-campus for counselling services.” True. They could. But, believe it or not, there are not a lot of free counselling services available in Regina. Yes, Addiction Services is covered, but it takes a crazy long time to get in to see someone, unless you use the walk-in services they offer. Other private counsellors in Regina cost basically your entire life savings and half your soul for one – yes, one – session. Can U of R students afford to go to these outside counselling services? Likely not! That’s probably why they use the services at the U of R, because those services are free.

And, let’s not forget, if students have to try to find a new counsellor who they actually get along with (trust me, it’s harder to find one of these than you may think) and worry about somehow scraping together enough money to pay for private counselling, they face even more stress than they were dealing with before. If the counselling program on campus gets closed because of this strike, it will add stress to the students on campus who do not need more stress in their lives.

Yes, I understand that those fighting for increased wages may be in dire financial stress and legitimately need the increased funds to support their families. I get that. But, for the love of God, find a way to fight for what you want without screwing over an entire population of students who need your services more than you may ever imagine.

I have personally used the counselling services on campus numerous times. The people who work there are gems, and they have helped me out with my struggles with admirable kindness, respect, and grace. I feel comforted knowing that these services exist only a few hallways away from my classes and workplace; I feel comforted knowing that if I go to book an appointment, I can see a counsellor within a few days to work through whatever I’m going through. I don’t have to wait a month or go off-campus to try and find someone to help me. I can also put money on the fact that other students who utilize the same services feel the same way I do.

Mental health is a big deal. If it wasn’t, like I said before, counselling services on campus wouldn’t have existed in the first place, the U of R certainly wouldn’t put on mental health awareness week, and whoever constructed the residences wouldn’t have put in suicide-resistant windows. Ultimately, the professional and technical employees who are striking at the U of R need to find a way to do so without shutting down the counselling services and risking the lives, health, and well-being of its students.

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