This March, students will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum that would establish a fee to fund the Peer Support Centre (PSC), a student-run mental health resource that opened in the SUB last October.
The PSC was created by the UVSS as a safe, confidential space for students to talk through the experiences or concerns they or a friend are having and explore options for mental health resources and support. Open and closed-door sessions are available, in addition to free tea, coffee, and snacks.
If this referendum is passed, starting in the fall full-time undergraduate students would pay $1 each semester to fund the Peer Support Centre, and part-time students would pay $0.50.
“Since it opened in October, the Peer Support Centre has come a long way,” says Ainsley Kerr, UVSS Director of Campaigns and Community Relations and the referendum’s official proponent.
So far, the PSC has held weekly drop-in sessions, organized a puppy playtime, and partnered with UVic’s Office of Student Life to host a Wellness Space on Fridays and three interactive workshops. Additionally, the PSC gives away coffee and prizes in the name of mental health on campus.
The PSC is currently operated by 13 regular volunteers — all of whom have undergone support and confidentiality training — and two work study students, and is in the process of hiring about 15 more employees.
The PSC’s drop-in attendance averages five to seven individuals a week.
“This might not sound like a lot,” said Kerr. “But with no funding for outreach or advertisement, and being located in a basement, we’re feeling pretty good!”
If the PSC receives funding through this referendum, it would be able to fund specialized workshops like CPR training, hire an additional Work Study student, extend hours and student outreach, and create a student position dedicated to managing the centre — a crucial step in ensuring the PSC will continue growing despite turnover in Kerr’s position.
The UVSS board have officially endorsed the ‘yes’ side of the referendum.