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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


“Response” looks for a response of their own

More than 350 students signed a petition this past week to give to the Undergraduate Student Government in an attempt to reinstate funding for Response of Suffolk County, a 24-hour crisis intervention hotline and online crisis counseling service.

The non-profit organization was scheduled to receive funding this academic year, but after reviewing the annual budget in October 2011 USG decided to not financially support Response.

USG officials said they cannot determine how effective the program is for SBU students because of its anonymity policy.

“We have no way of finding out how many [SBU] students utilized the program,” USG Treasurer Thomas Kirnbauer said.

Kirnbauer further defended the USG decision by pointing out an alternative resource for students.

“We have a Center for Prevention and Outreach program on campus,” he said. This program is accessible Monday through Friday during business hours.

Response receives funding from Suffolk County, as well as from donations, but according to Response Executive Director Meryl Cassidy, the amount of income continues to shrink.

The organization had received an average of $25,000 a year over the past 15 years from USG. Cassidy said she was not informed of USG’s decision until late January, months after contacting the government to find out why Response had not received funds yet.

“We are $12,000 in the hole,” Cassidy said. That amount, which was expected to be reimbursed to Response, was used to pay for the organization’s training coordinator,  community educa-tion coordinator and its support line coordinator.

The program has roughly 70 volunteers and 30 employees who answer hotline calls, online crisis requests or go out in the field to teach about various crises. There is also an on-campus phone service: 632-HELP.

“Part of the contracted funds pay for the on-campus helpline,” Cassidy said.

Former volunteer for Response Nadia Jafari said she would receive phone calls related to several issues, ranging from loneliness to anxiety.

“It’s an emotional support system, but it is a tangible support system,” Jafari said.

Though it is unknown how many SBU students use the service, Cassidy said an average of 500 to 700 students call. She said she has reason to believe many of them are from the university.

“It is a one-stop resource for any problem that you may be going through,” Responce employee senior Avalon Mason said.

Once the signatures are handed in, USG senators will review the petition to determine if they are willing to hear Response’s case. If the decision is overturned, the organization will be entitled to $12,250 for this semester. According to Kirnbauer, USG has a small amount of funds left.

Response has put in an allocation request of $25,000 for next year’s budget.

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