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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

University tries, fails at transparency, accountability


Former CAPS director wrongfully fired

UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services hosted the Mental Health Town Hall on Feb. 13 for an “open dialogue about mental health at UC Davis.” Students were invited to express concerns regarding the questionable allocation of mental health funds. SHCS officials were present to address these concerns with the exception of Sarah Hahn, the former director of Counseling and Psychological Services. Her absence prevented her from giving critical information on where student fees intended for mental health services are really going.

Hahn has proven to be a steadfast advocate for the integrity of student counseling services but was fired this month from her position at UC Davis. One of the reasons for her termination was a “lack of proficiency in college mental health service delivery,” according to the termination letter given to Hahn from Margaret Walter, the SHCS executive director.

However, with over 400 students publicly expressing opposition to Hahn’s termination, it hardly seems that she has failed in providing mental health support to students. In fact, Hahn appears to have done the opposite.

In 2015, the UC approved a raise in annual student fees to support increased mental health services system-wide, and UC Davis itself planned to hire 12 additional counselors with the additional funding. It is now 2018 and no such counselors have been hired, begging the question: Where is our money going?

As an advocate for student well-being, Hahn expressed criticism and concern over the fact that UC Davis has yet to make good on its promise to hire additional counselors. She stood up for students, reporting issues regarding the lack in proper mental health services despite the $18 million initiative to alleviate this problem.

It does not seem that her inquiries were well received by officials, in particular Walter. Not only was Hahn prohibited from speaking at the town hall, but she was also fired six days before she was set to receive financial information or access to an external needs assessment report which will be released to university officials. These incidents suggest that her termination was part of a larger motive of the university to keep certain information concealed from the public.

It was only in the face of public outcry that the university was finally cornered into releasing an audit confirming that $250,000 worth of mental health funds were spent by UC Davis in a manner “inconsistent with non-binding guidance.”

The Editorial Board is disappointed that the university, one that prides itself on providing free and accessible mental health services, resorted to what outwardly appears to be a retaliatory firing of an individual who was actively engaged with the student community and its mental well-being. The audit was only released as a result of heightened awareness of an internal problem, indicating a poor job of ensuring transparency between the UC and its students.

The Editorial Board urges students to join the growing network in support of Hahn’s efforts and continue pressing for transparency in university affairs.


Written by: The Editorial Board 


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