Student Service Fee Advisory Committee justifies budget cuts to the CRP by pointing to Counseling and Testing, SARC

Student Service Fee Advisory Committee justifies budget cuts to the CRP by pointing to Counseling and Testing, SARC

Student Service Fee Advisory Committee justifies budget cuts to the CRP by pointing to Counseling and Testing, SARC
November 29
00:48 2018

UNT’s Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) received a budget cut of 15 percent from the Student Service Fee Advisory Committee after receiving the feedback that UNT had Counseling and Testing Services (CTS) and the Substance Abuse Resource Center (SARC.)

“The feedback that we got is they couldn’t figure out the differences between us and CTS and SARC,” said Peyton Woods, a graduate case manager for the CRP.

These cuts are part of a series of cuts to various entities on campus by the Student Service Fee Advisory Committee which is part of the Student Government association. KNTU, the Toulouse Graduate School and the North Texas Daily all received budget cuts from the committee.

As with KNTU and the North Texas Daily, CRP’s letter also stated that “The Committee would like to see the Collegiate Recovery Program weaned off of SSF funding.”

“It’s kind of devastating because we believe this program does so much good,” Woods said. “Seeing them not vote in our favor was kind of hard to hear.”

The CRP, which has been on campus since 2013, provides peer-to-peer support for recovery in mental health and substance use. There are more than 200 collegiate recovery programs nationwide. The CRP is in the process of finding a new director after the previous one left earlier this year.

Woods said the main difference between the CRP and other campus programs like CTS and SARC is that they are strictly peer-based.

“It’s for students, by students,” Woods said. “We’re in school to become counselors, but we’re not licensed yet. So it’s all through students.”

UNT junior and buisness analytics major, Grayson Skarnulis lives in UNT’s recovery housing at College Inn. Skarnulis has been an active member of the Collegiate Recovery Program, CRP, for one semester and is approaching one full year of sobriety. Will Baldwin

Elisabeth Davenport, a student assistant and peer recovery coach, first joined the CRP

CRP as a practicum student in the spring semester and is now working there through this fall semester.

She agreed the cuts were devastating.

“Considering one of the biggest [reasons that] people drop out of school is mental health, and then you want to cut back a program that helps someone stay in school [is devestating],” Davenport said.

UNT is also the first CRP in the nation to integrate mental health into its treatment options for students.

“We believe those go hand-in-hand,” Woods said. “If someone isn’t struggling with substances but struggling with depression or anxiety, we believe that’s valid as well.”

Davenport said CTS provides care for people with critical needs while the CRP provides care for people trying to maintain their quality of life.

“They don’t have a critical need, they’re trying to not revert back to having a critical need,” Davenport said. “It’s kind of keeping the wheels going is what we do.”

Woods said the cuts were both surprising and unsurprising.

“I think it’s surprising because it’s UNT, and UNT is all about inclusiveness and diversity and retention,” Woods said. “We provide all of that.”

During her presentation to the Student Service Fee Advisory Committee, which she did with a professor and then-CRP director Amy Trail, Woods said the committee had seemingly already made up their minds.

“You can kind of feel that [the committee] were just not getting it,” Woods said.

Woods said she gave testimony about how the CRP has helped her and that did not help the committee understand.

“Even after that, [the committee] just weren’t really getting it,” she said. “They were just like ‘well we have the counseling so why do we need you guys’ and ‘we have SARC so why do we need you guys.’”

Woods said they go back in February to present to the committee again and are already working on their presentation.

Woods said in the long term, the CRP is looking for external funding opportunities such as grants.

Grayson Skarnulis is a junior in the process of changing his major to rehabilitation studies. He transferred to UNT in part because of the CRP and just got the position of vice president for Eagle Peer Recovery.

He said the CRP has like-minded people who understand the struggles of substances or mental illness.

“Outside of here, if you talk about your troubles and your issues, a lot of people aren’t necessarily going to understand it,” Skarnulis said. “In here, it’s like its own little family. It’s its own little place to go to dinner at two in the morning or go to Whataburger or whatever.”

Skarnulis said without the CRP, he would not be in the best place.

“[I would be] probably just white-knuckling it,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t have talked to anybody about any of my issues.”

Featured Image: (from left to right) Elizabeth Davenport 34, Flavia Carr 25, Payton Woods 24, and Nate Pyle 25 work with the Collegiate Recovery Program at UNT. Together they work to help students fulfill their acedemic potential through a healthy substance-free lifestyle. Will Baldwin

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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