Re: “UCS hires student liaisons” (Feb. 1): Dean Edwards’ announcement of the pending appointment of UCS student liaison counselors in the residential colleges is hardly a new approach to the continuing underlying problems at UCS. Indeed, it is simply an enhancement of a pilot program that was instituted by former UCS Director Phil Jones in 2003, in which student liaisons were hired and spent several evenings each week in, if memory serves me correctly, three of the residential colleges. Unfortunately, students failed to use this service despite the fact that it was widely publicized, including an article that year in the News. Eventually, the student liaison program was phased out. Dean Edwards’ approach is simply “more of the same old, same old,” or what many would term “reinventing the wheel.” Since UCS was moved to 55 Whitney from 1 Hillhouse in 2001, students have continued to complain that the office is located in “outer Mongolia” and that the number of professionally trained career counselors is inadequate for the size of the undergraduate population. This continues to cause two very basic problems: long waiting periods for appointments, especially at certain times of the year; and the inability to develop an ongoing relationship with an individual advisor, since the counselor-to-student ratio is unrealistic, and thus, unworkable. If Dean Edwards is truly serious about addressing student concerns, then she would seek to relocate UCS to a more central location on campus and to restructure her budget to hire additional full-time counselors who have the practical training and education required from master’s level degree programs in career counseling. Training Yale students to work part-time as UCS career assistants when the stated need of the student body is for additional professional counselors does not address the basic problem of easy accessibility to appropriately trained full-time UCS counselors.
The writer is a former UCS counselor.