Florman: Prepayment | The Dartmouth


Given the ongoing mental health crisis on campus, College President Phil Hanlon should use his salary to pay more counselors.

by Rachel Florman | 07/02/21 4:00 am

Dartmouth is going through a mental crisis, however it is Not just us: College students across the country Experienced higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in 2020 than in 2019. The pandemic has only exacerbated the existing burden on university counseling centers. Something has to change.

Last May, The Dartmouth Editorial Board wrote that “students feel” angry and betray by [Dartmouth’s] insufficient mental health response in the last year ”. Personally, I feel betrayed by the fact that it took four student deaths for the administration to hire a second on-call advisor. I’m angry because students were previously sent to voicemail or were forced to wait in a crisis before being attended to. The crisis is all around us: in the last few weeks more than 80 mentally ill people have waited for inpatient emergency beds across New Hampshire. But because of that, I feel betrayed by the regulatory dossier I received in spring 2017 that tells me that Dartmouth is exceptional. I am angry with our government that refuses to acknowledge the ubiquity of this crisis, force Students risk falling behind in their class if it takes a day to grieve. I am frustrated by the opaqueness of our administration and by my subsequent ignorance of where or to whom to bring these complaints. Ultimately, I turn to one obvious figurehead: College President Phil Hanlon.

Before I make any suggestions, let me outline a few facts: Dartmouth employs twelve consultants and has obliged to rent two more advisors “as soon as possible”; The counseling center uses a short-term therapy model “to meet significant student needs,” but if a student needs long-term assistance, they can be referred to a therapist in the community; a one-hour psychotherapy appointment in New Hampshire costs between $ 98 and $ 231; Hanlon earned more than $ 1.4 million in total compensation in 2017; the median psychologist salary in New Hampshire in 2017 was $ 80,220.

To sum up, the mental health infrastructure in Dartmouth is inadequate. Although the recruitment of two additional counselors is necessary and will certainly reduce the existing burden on the staff of the counseling center, it will not be enough to enable longer-term therapy or meaningful participation in a larger part of the student body. One solution: hire significantly more consultants. But where should the money for the consultants’ salaries come from? Given the forecast shortage of mental health professionals in the US, how will we recruit good providers? What about the fact that Dartmouth is an academic institution, not a social or medical one? All of these are legitimate concerns, and I propose a simple solution: Hanlon should voluntarily waive his salary for a year and use that $ 1 million to pay consultants’ salaries.

His salary of $ 1.4 million was made up of $ 1,005,436 Base salary in 2017 along with over $ 400,000 in benefits and deferred compensation. That amount could easily cover the salaries of nine or ten consultants from $ 80 to $ 100,000 each. Asking Hanlon to give up his salary would not be without precedent: The Valley News reported that he made a temporary pay cut in April 2020 and “20% of his salary for the next 12 months to the Dartmouth College Fund … Even with a lower salary of $ 800,000 instead of the usual $ 1 million, Hanlon is still earned around $ 300,000 above the income limit for New Hampshire’s top 1% earners. Assuming he returned to his full salary in April 2021, using his salary as a source of funding for new consultants could allay some college concerns projected tax losses. It would also be a powerful symbol: in the middle significant Criticizing Hanlon’s leadership and college politics, Hanlon may come across as an altruistic and determined leader helping his students through these dire times.

I have no illusions about the (im) responsiveness of the administration to students like me; I know it takes money from donors or donors Public scandals bring about meaningful changes. For example, the Dartmouth Student Union petition for an expanded NGO in late March – signed by 683 students and 91 professors – went unnoticed. Dean Kathryn Lively emailed the student body on March 5, stating that “the policy cannot be changed this late in the semester,” with seven days of class remaining. On May 21st, with eleven days of classes left in the spring semester, Hanlon sent an email to the student body stating that “the deadline for choosing the non-admission option (NRO)” had been extended for this semester. Months after the DSU petition, Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson told the Valley News The “[Dean Lively] heard from student leaders that extending the deadline for NGOs and incomplete ones would go a long way in relieving stress. “

Is it possible that the NGO was renewed in May, but not March, due to the increased visibility of our poor mental health infrastructure? The decision certainly felt reactionary; in March it would have been preventative. Instead of waiting for another moment of crisis – instead of letting more students suffer or die – the college needs to act. Hanlon’s salary was to be used to fund the salaries of nine or ten new psychologists for at least a year. This campus mental health commitment could cure the anger and betrayal that so many of us feel.

Rachel Florman is a member of the Class of ’21.

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