Recognizing the growing need for increased mental health awareness and resources on campus, SGA President Jared Hunter has united with several Greek organizations to start preliminary planning on a trust fund that will serve to benefit the University of Alabama Counseling Center.
Hunter is attempting to deliver on his campaign promise to raise mental health awareness by creating a trust fund that the UA Counseling Center will have at its disposal. Hunter asserts that the idea of a continuous fund specifically designated for the Counseling Center was formed through casual conversations Hunter had with other campus leaders, such as Justin Silver, the president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, Beau DeVaul, the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Everette Dawkins, the president of the Alabama Panhellenic Association.
When Hunter approached Silver, a junior majoring in management and the president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, with the idea of a fund to benefit the Counseling Center, Silver immediately knew it was an idea with the potential to benefit students on a large scale.
“When Jared approached me with the idea, I knew that not only was it a very interesting idea, but I also understood the impact the fund could have on the campus and its students,” Silver said. “The IFC at Alabama was excited for the opportunity to help students across campus.”
The help of these campus leaders and the student organizations they represent will be invaluable as Hunter tries to reach the ambitious fundraising goal he has set. By collecting donations, securing corporate partnerships and hosting fundraising events, Hunter hopes SGA and the student organizations it is partnered with will raise $100,000 for the fund every year, starting next year, until the fund has raised $1 million for the Counseling Center after ten years. Hunter’s personal goal is to make the first donation in Fall 2017.
Although Hunter is optimistic that the lofty monetary goals he has established for the fund can be reached, he is not solely concerned with the financial success of the effort. Rather, he is also focused on proving that collaboration can yield meaningful change on campus.
“It’s not so much the dollar amount, but the idea that multiple campus organizations will be collaborating to fix an important campus issue together,” Hunter said. “Hopefully we can spark more collaboration with other campus organizations as time goes on.”
To Beau DeVaul, a junior majoring in finance and economics who serves as the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Counseling Center fund provides a solution that will have a long-term impact on mental health awareness on campus.
“For me, especially in the black community, I feel as though mental health awareness is not something we are very committed to,” DeVaul said. “One thing that I wanted to do while I was in my position was to help end the stigma… this is about the long term. We figure if we start now, hopefully in two, five, ten years [this trust fund] can make a significant impact.”
Hunter believes that a fund for the Counseling Center is a tangible way that SGA can positively impact the lives of every student on campus.
“As an SGA I really wanted to do something that would have a tangible impact on every student’s life,” Hunter said. “While perhaps every Alabama student may not be dealing with mental health issues, I would bet that every student on campus knows someone else who is. Having a Counseling Center that is even more well-funded, resourceful and helpful is going to be a game-changer in every sense of the word.”