As of spring 2019, USF’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is instituting a no-show fee. This means that any student who misses an appointment without canceling one hour in advance will be charged $30. CAPS’ reasoning behind this is that the fee will hopefully increase available appointments through ensuring students cancel well in advance. This system holds students accountable for making it to their appointments.
While the reasoning seems fair, the fee can actually be detrimental to CAPS’ aim to meet the needs of students on our campus.
The fee creates a less welcoming environment when making appointments. Due to underfunding and the lack of available resources to promptly service every student, the typical wait time for services is three weeks. As it can be difficult to anticipate our needs with unpredictable student schedules, accessing CAPS may not be something students think about until they really need it. People already have difficulty deciding to seek help until they need immediate attention, which makes booking an appointment three weeks in advance an added complication.
The no-show fee is an added stressor and can be the difference between a student deciding to make an appointment and foregoing the services they need.
Another reason for the no-show fee is CAPS’ lack of funds.
While we shouldn’t anticipate the cancellation fees to offset the deficit, as students, our tuition already partially pay into CAPS. The cancellation fee relies on profiting from students missing appointments rather than accessing and utilizing the services. This doesn’t encourage the growth of the department nor does it help to develop it.
My frustration is not entirely towards CAPS for implementing this fine. After all, the fee attempts to address a larger issue than appointment cancellations. Most of my frustration is with our University for underfunding this essential service. The services that CAPS provides can be the difference between someone choosing to attend USF or to find another school that would better meet their needs. For students who aren’t covered by health care providers and off-campus resources, CAPS’ ability to both provide and connect students to services is vital to these students’ well-being. CAPS can be the difference between someone deciding to end their college experience early or successfully completing their degree. The support that CAPS provides helps with retention rates and gives students the tools needed to cope.
The underfunding of CAPS demonstrates the University’s lack of commitment to our core value of “cura personalis” – the care for the whole person. It is a given that academic success is of utmost importance in the university experience, but if USF is to claim that they uphold this value in their approach to education, the underfunding of CAPS ignores the mental health care that is essential to success. I can see the care that the University takes in giving our students the platform to demonstrate social justice within the greater community, but until I see a greater sensitivity and care for our student community, USF will continue failing to fulfil its vow to uphold cura personalis.