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Friday, September 20, 2013

How UC Hastings Supports Students Facing Challenges

Message from Associate Academic Dean Heather M. Field.
Heather M. Field

Heather M. Field

Associate Academic Dean
Professor of Law & Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law
Heather M. Field, Professor of Law and Associate Academic Dean

Greetings Students!

I write to follow up on Wednesday’s Student Town Hall meeting. I’m so sorry that I was unable to join you. I heard that you turned out in force to engage in a productive discussion, which I think is wonderful.

I understand that one issue that was raised during the town hall related to how UC Hastings supports students who face a variety of challenges. As Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu promised in his earlier message to you, I would like to share some information with you on this question.

This is important to me because, as you know, part of my mission as the Associate Academic Dean is to support the “whole student”—I care about your academic success, your professional development, and your overall well-being.

Assisting Students in Distress

Law school can be stressful, especially if you have pressing matters in your personal life, as many of students do. Many students experience distress at one point or another. We care about you, which means we worry about how you’re doing. And we take that very seriously.

If you are having trouble, please know that there are resources here to support you, including Student Health Services, online mental health screening, counseling and psychiatric services at Student Health (this page includes additional resources about coping with stress), and community resources, including crisis hotlines. You can also contact Student Services, Public Safety, DRP, LEOP, your faculty adviser, or me.

Further, we have a team (the “Students of Concern” team) that works collaboratively to provide early intervention and support for at-risk students. We regularly provide outreach to students who may be having trouble. The members of the SOC are Rupa Bhandari (Director of Student Services), Laurie Brookner (RN Manager at Student Health), Lt. Scott Hallahan, Lisa Noshay Petro (Director of the Disability Resource Program), Chief Bill Palmini, and me, and we also consult with many folks from around the College. The SOC team recently participated in training to help improve our ability to identify, assess, and respond to students at risk. We are also working to add a section to the website to share with the UC Hastings community more about the SOC and about how the SOC tries to support students; please stay tuned for that.

Please note that the SOC is not meant to be the sole mechanism of support for at-risk students and does not take the place of other established student services. Also, please note that, even though a member of the Student Health Services staff participates on the SOC team, great care is taken to ensure that students’ confidentiality is not compromised.

Ultimately, caring for the members of our community requires a community effort. You play a critical role. We need your help in watching out for each other. If you see a classmate showing signs of distress, please contact Rupa, me, or one of the other members of the SOC. We want to help. You can, of course, also reach out to the classmate directly if you feel comfortable doing so.

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

UC Hastings is committed to making its programs accessible, usable, and user-friendly to people with disabilities. We want to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for success.

Our Disability Resource Program is a key resource for all students with disabilities. UC Hastings makes reasonable accommodations for qualified students with known disabilities. The purpose is to mitigate the impact of the students’ disabilities in the law school environment. DRP works with students individually to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations. It is important to remember that students with disabilities are quite diverse. Disabilities can be physical or non-physical, and disabilities can be visible or not visible.

I hope that you already know Lisa Noshay Petro, the Director of our Disability Resource Program. If you aren’t already familiar with Lisa or with DRP, I encourage you to learn more here. If you believe that you may qualify for DRP services, please review the information about how to register for services.

Fostering Student Well-Being

In addition, we are committed, more generally, to fostering student well-being. Specific actions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Increasing the amount of study and leisure space on campus. We hope that you have been enjoying the new student lounge in the 198 building, and we hope that you are taking advantage of the new social space in the temporary student lounge on the 1st floor of the 200 building.
  • Including a session for all students during Orientation about maintaining balance in law school.
  • Working to strengthen our faculty advising program.
  • Sponsoring a welcome icebreaker activity during the first week of school. We had a huge number of entries for the Philz coffee raffle, and I hope this activity enabled many of you to make new friends.
  • Creating the Student Hour, and particularly, the community building-oriented sessions in the Student Hour (e.g., Week 3’s discussion groups among students with shared experiences). By helping to strengthen the relationships among students, we seek to foster a more cooperative and supportive environment that engages students in the community and helps students to thrive. I know that the Student Hour is far from perfect, and we welcome your continuing feedback as we try to understand what is working and what is not.

Later in the semester, as we move into the final exam period, please remember that we will have the return of dog therapy, Stressbusters Massages (free head, neck and shoulder massages), and study snacks, all of which are part of our efforts to support students during particularly stressful times.

We also encourage you to participate in campus activities, both academic and non-academic. There are regular yoga classes, Zumba, and meditation group meetings.

Please remember that the Tower gym and fitness center is open to all UC Hastings students. Be sure to check out the Weekly and the Events Calendar to learn about opportunities to participate in activities that on campus.

Your Ideas & Feedback

I know from personal experience that it can be hard to do everything you want to do. There are many things that you are trying to balance, and we want to support you in your endeavors. I hope that this email helped to inform you about some of our efforts to support students. If you have ideas or feedback about our efforts, I would be glad to hear from you.

I hope that your semester continues to go well. Please remember to take care of yourselves.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Best regards,
HMF

Heather M. Field
Associate Academic Dean
Professor of Law & Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law
(415) 565-4682
fieldh@uchastings.edu
SSRN author page: http://ssrn.com/author=657301 

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