Decision to close TCNJ Clinic suspended

By Michelle Lampariello
Nation & World Editor

The College’s controversial decision to close the TCNJ Clinic has been suspended until the clinic’s efficacy is thoroughly evaluated by no later than Oct. 31, 2017.

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein sent out a campus-wide email on Wednesday, May 10, stating “the decision for closure on the TCNJ Clinic will be held in abeyance,” following an open forum and information session on Thursday, May 4.

The evaluation of the clinic includes five main elements to determine its effectiveness as a resource for graduate interns, undergraduate students and community members in need of mental health care.

The administration maintained a hard stance on the clinic’s closure until students and members of the TCNJ Committee on Unity protested for TCNJ Clinic with flyers and sit-in in Gitenstein’s conference room. This prompted administrators to hold a forum, where students and members of the community demanded another look.

The review of the clinic will include “a (TCNJ Clinic) self-assessment, an analysis of the clinic as a clinical site by the Department of Counselor Education in the School of Education, a thorough written report from the School of Education’s Dean’s office,” along with “an external consultant, selected in consultation with the clinic and the Counselor Education Department, (who) will be engaged to review this material and conduct interviews, and input from students in the counselor education programs as well as students from the general population who have accessed services from the clinic,” according to College Spokesperson Dave Muha in a press release.

Gitenstein acknowledged poor communication during the original decision process to close the TCNJ Clinic and hopes that the review will help to improve transparency for those who are concerned about future decisions.

“I believe that broad based, informed consultation is the most effective way to ensure solid decision making. I want to emphasize that such decision making never satisfies every stakeholder group’s desires, but it does result in better decisions and when difficult decisions must be made,” Gitenstein wrote in a statement to the press.

Although the decision to close the clinic at the end of the academic year has been suspended, future counseling services at the clinic may be limited, since students in the Counselor Education Program already found positions with other providers, Muha said.

However, any student or community member who is currently receiving services at TCNJ Clinic will continue to receive services despite a decrease in counselor availability.

Gitenstein also acknowledged the efforts of students and community members in their advocacy for mental health care issues on campus.

“I thank all those who have offered to work with us to improve mental health care delivery on the campus and improve our relationships with community partners and community members,” Gitenstein added.