Last Friday, Cougars in Recovery and UH Wellness used their presentation time before the Student Fees Advisory Committee to highlight their previous accomplishments and challenges they’ve encountered in making themselves known.
“Our mission is simple: It’s all about the students,” said John Shiflet, director of CIR. “Everything we do on a daily basis is geared toward student success.”
CIR is a fee-funded organization that provides a safe and supportive environment for students recovering from addiction. Students in the program have access to sober housing and activities among other services.
For fiscal year 2018, CIR submitted a base request of $65,860 and a one-time request of $49,870 to fund a program coordinator position. According to the one-time request, donations to the program are funding this position.
In the presentation, CIR said they currently maintain the stability of the program through grant awards, which are not guaranteed from year to year. If SFAC were to decide to fund the salary of the program coordinator, the donations currently used for that purpose could instead pay for student scholarships and housing.
While CIR had a substantial amount of funds left over from FY 2016, Shiflet said the excess was due to donor gifts and not unused SFAC funding.
In most cases, Shiflet said, the donor chooses which activities their funding supports. This means the remaining funds at the end of FY 2016 were likely allocated toward future activities.
“Even though we have money left over, it’s already spent next year and the year after that,” Shiflet said. “If we don’t receive foundation funding, you know, we may fizzle out.”
One scholarship offered by the program is the CIR Recovery Scholarship. According to the presentation, it is offered to students who have been in continuous recovery for at least a year and who maintained at least a 3.0 GPA in both the Fall and Spring semesters.
The awards for this scholarship range between $1,000 and $3,000.
In spite of the program’s many accomplishments in FY 2016, including a trip to Tanzania, which gave seven students the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and volunteer at the nonprofit “Hard Life Artist,” some committee members had lingering concerns that the department may not be doing enough to increase diversity in the program.
The program, Shiflet said, can’t control who seeks them out and who doesn’t. He later said that the apparent lack of diversity in the students who make up CIR could be due to differing cultural views on seeking outside help.
“They have to want to be sober,” Shiflet said. The students currently in CIR, he said, are the ones who either sought the program out or were referred to it from elsewhere.
Patrick Lukingbeal, director of UH Wellness, spoke of similar challenges during his department’s early morning presentation.
“We are located in the Rec (Campus Wellness and Recreation Center), which sometimes can be a challenge for some students if they don’t normally come to the Rec,” Lukingbeal said. “They don’t know who we are, maybe where we are, so we’ve done a lot more outreach on campus.”
UH Wellness focuses on helping students lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle, according to the department’s mission. In its presentation, the department saw a 41 percent increase in usage during FY 2016.
“We believe that a student, a staff member or faculty member, is much more than just their physical wellness,” Lukingbeal said.
UH Wellness is requesting $287,858, which is the same amount of base SFAC funding that the department has received in the previous three years.
Lukingbeal said the program’s budget covers all professional staff members in addition to the the department’s student workers.