Safewalk is the AMS’s transportation service for students or visitors who feel unsafe walking on campus by themselves at night by picking them up and accompanying them home. The AMS's most used service, AMS Student Services Manager Hussam Zbeeb approximates that 80 to 100 students use Safewalk per night in the fall.
Unfortunately, it suffers from misuse — students occasionally bother the drivers for unrelated requests, or are absent from meet-up points without notice. But misuse has plummeted since new penalties were imposed in November 2016 that include suspending a repeat offender from Safewalk for an entire term.
Speakeasy is the AMS’s peer support counselling service. There, students are free to talk about personal issues to trained student volunteers in a non-judgmental, private environment.
The service stands as one of the least-used by students. Despite this, Zbeeb emphasizes that it’s about quality rather than quantity.
“We’re looking at 20-ish drop-ins per month, but when we’re looking at the depth of engagement in those drop-ins, it far exceeds anything else we offer,” said Zbeeb, noting that the AMS still intends to improve its performance.
The newest addition into the AMS portfolio, Vice is tailored to students wanting to balance their substance use of alcohol, smoking and technology.
“We’re going to have peer dialogue sessions where students come in and it’s going to be a low-barrier session where we chat about relationships with alcohol and such. The idea is that it isn’t a place where we go for formal counselling,” said Zbeeb.
Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC)
Although its primary mandate is to assist survivors of sexual assault, the SASC offers other features to educate students and promote prevention. Their services include emotional support groups, educational and outreach programs, and legal and medical advocacy. The centre also provides various contraceptives and pregnancy tests for free.
In an earlier interview with The Ubyssey, former SASC manager Ashley Bentley emphasized that the need for their services is constant -- this is especially true since the centre’s usage rates skyrocketed in 2015.
“When I say that sexual assault is an epidemic, I don’t say that lightly. We’re seeing an increase in the number of people accessing [the SASC’s] services. In terms of creating that cultural change, and making sure that survivors and people who have caused harm are getting the support they need, we do need more,” said Bentley.
Students are encouraged to volunteer for SASC's office services or outreach efforts.
The first time students show up for an appointment, they’re asked to do an initial consultation with one of their wellness professionals, as well as an online assessment. From there, students and their counselors develop a wellness plan to best suit their needs.
“The wellness plan may include on and off-campus resources such as self-directed skill-building tools, workshops, academic support, group therapy, individual therapy, physician and/or psychiatric care,” said Dr. Cheryl Washburn, director of Counselling, in an emailed statement. “Emergency appointments are available on a same-day basis for student in crisis."
Washburn also added that over 1,400 students so far have attended initial consultations in this fall term so far. Fifty-seven per cent of student wellness plans included referral to self-care and self-directed skill building tools; 24 per cent to group therapy programs; 39 per cent to on-campus counselling; and 15 per cent to off-campus counselling.
However, the service also has a reputation among students for reports of insensitive counsellors and wait times that can exceed two weeks. Washburn hopes to initiate more improvements in the future.
“We’re currently implementing key elements of a new collaborative service delivery model, designed to minimize barriers to help those seeking assistance and to provide the most effective services,” she said.
Access and Diversity (A&D)
Access and Diversity helps ease barriers students face while studying at UBC due to their disabilities, cultural beliefs, financial problems or mental health issues.
The service currently supports over 2,600 students, including 520 new clients so far this term, according to Janet Mee, A&D’s director. Over 35 per cent of students supported through Access and Diversity are managing a mental health condition, she said.
The department is seeking expansion and further accessibility of their services through more collaborative means, especially through contributions from students themselves.
“There are a number of [peer programs] that support student mental health and wellbeing, including the wellness peers, the equity ambassadors, the emergency medical aid team and the suicide awareness ambassadors,” said Mee.
Student Health Services (SHS)
Student Health Services is the primary care clinic for UBC students. They offer a wide range of services that you would usually get from a family physician. Apart from the usual services related to physical health, the SHS also provides specialist services that involve psychiatry and dermatology as well as free naloxone kits to prevent fatal overdoses.
The service has also made efforts in health promotion on campus, particularly through its Nurses on Campus program that features registered nurses from the clinic in booths across campus offering advice to students on the health questions they may have.