University Counseling Director presents new initiatives at SGA

Dr.+Yau+speaks+at+an+SGA+meeting.+

Micky Braeger

Dr. Yau speaks at an SGA meeting.

Director of University Counseling Services Tow Yau presented his new initiatives for counseling services at the final Student Government Association meeting of the fall quarter on Nov. 11.

Yau presented his vision — which includes a new unannounced name change, extended hours and expanded services —  to the Student Government Association (SGA) while also addressing the current services available for students.

“The name is going to change,” Yau said. “That’s why I’ve tried not to use too much of University Counseling Services because we have ties to that history. Remember, as a learner, I love history, I would not make the same mistakes that the past administration at the counseling center has [made].”

Yau does not want students to associate the past counseling center with his new vision.

SGA Executive Vice President of Student Affairs Cindy Rocha said that this will be important for students to have a new experience.

“[UCS] have a certain type of reputation…we have our own picture based on our own experiences,” she said.

During the meeting, Yau reviewed the available services for students like the My Student Support Program app, DePaul Department Education and Counseling Center (ECC) and individual referrals. He plans to include services like group therapy and telehealth models. ECC provides counseling through a grad program.

“We have My SSP, which was being contracted before I came on board,” Yau said at the meeting. “But My SSP is not not just an app. It is a platform to allow you to connect to a live counselor with the chat call, or you could set up an ongoing video counseling session with your same counselor.”

Yau updated SGA about the department’s hiring process. He is currently reviewing applications for the available positions and said he is hoping to hire part-time counselors by the start of next year. However, he does not have a timeline for when counseling services will be back to full capacity.

“I have no control in terms of how many applications are coming to us right now,” Yau said.  “We have a few applications coming to us and we are moving that so that hopefully we could have those counselors ready by either December or January. I hope to have more full-time staff in the fall semester of 2022. But this is very tentative, because I have no control.”

Nationwide, mental health counselor positions are in high demand. DePaul has listed two positions for associate director and a part-time mental health outreach specialist on Indeed.

Yau also confirmed at the meeting that he did not know how much money DePaul will allocate to the UCS budget. After an audience member asked if Yau could give an estimate, he chose not to answer publicly.

Vice President of Student Affairs Gene Zdziarski also could not provide a budget amount to The DePaulia.

“The university does not provide unit level budget information,” Zdziarski said in a statement.

Rocha said she has been meeting with Yau to discuss student concerns throughout the quarter.

“[Yau] and I have been working nonstop with countless meetings,” Rocha said. “I listen to students’ concerns [through] DMing me, emails or they just call me in person. And those concerns I directly bring up with Dr. Yau as well.”

If students could not attend the meeting, Yau expressed wanting to hear community feedback about UCS and My SSP through Student Affairs or emailing ucs@depaul.edu.

Rocha expressed her trust in Yau and the future of UCS. He plans to use research to change some of the previous standards, such as the rule that students were allotted 20 free counseling sessions over their four years. Current research says students need more and Yau will include more free sessions.

“If you recall, that’s been a huge complaint from the student body for about like four years now, maybe five,” Rocha said. “And I told him about that. He immediately was like, ‘No, I’ve been reading the recent research on that [and] that is not the most beneficial for people, so he’s getting rid of [only 20 free sessions].”

Although Yau has been at DePaul for about three months and is restructuring the program, students still have expressed discontent.

“So we have to take into account these different variables,” Rocha said. “Students have every right to be angry, students have every right to be concerned. But I feel like it’s important for them to listen to him with an open mind, because he is absolutely there to listen to everything he wants us to get involved.”

SGA will continue to work with Yau to provide quality services for students and create liaisons.

“[Having] a liaison and that point of connection with SGA, it’s just very strong because we’re usually more accessible in daily life to other students because we are students ourselves,” Rocha said.

Students can also direct messages @DePaulSGA on Instagram with questions or concerns.