by Benjamin Yount
One of Wisconsin’s government watchdogs says it’s keeping an eye on whether the University of Wisconsin’s new mental health providers for students of color discharges their duties in a discriminatory fashion.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) on Wednesday sent a letter to the university after UW-Madison’s September announcement that it hired nine new mental health professionals. WILL took issue with how the school originally framed the new counselors.
The university said “three of these providers will exclusively serve students of color, joining eight providers already in this role.”
WILL’s Dan Lennington (pictured above) said race shouldn’t play a role in mental health counseling, especially at a public university.
“Race discrimination has no place in American society. Students struggling with mental health issues should not be segregated into racial groups – they should be treated as individuals,” Lennington said. “UW should reverse course immediately.”
On Wednesday UW-Madison clarified that course.
“Three of these providers join eight current providers who have special expertise addressing issues that students of color often experience,” the university said in a new announcement.
“Four new providers will serve as generalists which are counselors who see clients with a wide range of concerns rather than a specific population. Finally, the two additional new providers will serve as care managers, working closely with students who may need support in finding resources both at UHS and in the Madison community.”
Lennington said that sounds better. But he’s waiting to see what happens on campus.
“While we don’t necessarily oppose counselors claiming certain expertise in issues facing students of color, we remain concerned that such ‘expertise’ will consist of little more than stereotypes and worry about the disparate treatment that such stereotypical thinking might beget,” Lennington said Wednesday. “We do read UW’s revised release to abandon the notion of making counseling resources exclusively available to students on the basis of race. Should this understanding be incorrect or should counseling services be provided in a discriminatory way, UW may be hearing from us.”
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