Service sees low turnout

(Graphic by Lena Yang)
(Graphic by Lena Yang)

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union’s (WLUSU) Student Lifeline will see a $36,000 drop in its price tag this coming year as the Students’ Union negotiated its contract with Ceridian, the company that powers the Lifeline.

The program will only cost $40,000 for the 2013-14 year, and will now only charge undergraduate students $3.95 as opposed to $5, partly due to an alteration to the contract from 12 months to just eight.

The program, which started in September 2012, is aimed at providing services regarding guidance for mental well-being, finances, legal issues, counseling and other student matters.

However, the service since Sept. 2012 has only seen 39 cases in total, 12 of which were reported in the second quarter up to February 2013.

“If you’re asking me if they’re at where you want them to be, absolutely not, but it does serve the needs of our students,” explained Roly Webster, the executive director of the Students’ Union.

Webster noted that the lower than expected number of students using the services is because of minimal marketing for the service when it first came about. That’s something that Webster hopes will perform better this upcoming year.

“I quickly understood that we didn’t have the plan in place before we got the product,” said Webster.

But since then, Webster and WLUSU are making plans to market the services better. Instead of marketing it as a whole, just as a “Lifeline,” the organization will market each individual service.

“It’s so many more things, so let’s just market the products,” he added.
The contract will end in April 2014 and at that point, Webster and the Students’ Union, based on the data it collects from that year, will determine whether or not to keep the service.

“At the end of the year we can determine if this is a good product. Are we getting value out of it? And my hope is yes, then we’ll renew for 12 months,” said Webster.

Since the Student Lifeline provides a service for student mental health and student well-being, Wilfrid Laurier University has included it into its external review of student well-being. David Morphy, the former vice provost of student affairs of the University of Manitoba, and Ann Tierney, the vice provost and dean of students at Queen’s university are conducting the review.

David McMurray, the vice-president of student affairs at Laurier, noted that there are some gaps in the services — whether that is from the university or the Students’ Union — that they provide to students and that they are looking to achieve a more cohesive approach.

“I don’t think there’s an absence of cohesiveness [but] there are gaps there that we could be stronger in a more cohesive and collaborative fashion,” McMurray said.

Webster echoed McMurray’s remarks by saying, “Are all [the services at Laurier] talking to each other? If we have a student that goes off campus because we can’t provide their need here, how are we at transferring them back to campus to be successful?”

After two visits in May and a lot of analysis of Laurier’s data on student well-being, the first draft of the report from the external review will be given to McMurray. It will be released to the public later this month or early July.

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