No BIPOC focused CAPS counselors

Cal Poly Humboldt Counseling and Psychological Services lacks in BIPOC representation for students of color since the departure of Latinx and Multi-cultural focused counselors.

CAPS is located on the second floor of the Health Center on the CPH campus. They offer support for individual, group, workshops and crisis counseling services for students in person. CAPS is also partnered with TimelyCare to provide students support from counselors of more diverse backgrounds, over the phone.

CAPS has one person of color identifying faculty member, Nassie Danesh who is an LCSW, staff psychotherapist and suicide prevention Coordinator. They also have 10 trainee counselors who identify as POC who are in the Psychology Department’s Masters in Counseling graduate program and are supervised by licensed clinicians.

Ginette Walker was hired at CAPS as a staff psychotherapist in January 2022 to focus on the Latinx community of students. Cedric Aaron was hired at CAPS in fall 2018 as the multicultural specialist and staff psychotherapist. Both have since left, leaving these positions vacant. El Lenador reached out and was unable to get interviews with Walker and Aaron. According to CAPS, they have plans to fill both of these positions in fall 2023.

José Juan Rodriguez Gutierrez is a senior at CPH and the Center Liaison at El Centro Académico Cultural de Humboldt.

“Gina was an incredible person, she put in so much effort into being present, to going out of her way and doing more than what her job description was,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez explained that his support system at CPH comes from “the big 5” as he called the cultural centers: El Centro, Umoja Center for Pan African Excellence, Asian, Desi, Pacific Islander Collective (ADPIC), Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP), Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP) as well as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

“I think all of the smaller entities on campus that don’t really receive a lot of the credit, are the ones doing the heavy lifting. Not CAPS, not the school wellness center, but it’s the cultural centers,” Gutierrez said.

CAPS Interim Associate Director and licensed Clinical Psychologist, Elizabeth McCallion stated that “48% of the students who sought services at CAPS last semester identify as a student of color.”

McCallion explained that CAPS works closely with the Cultural Centers to offer support to students of color, “our staff is engaged in ongoing training on decolonizing mental health & DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion].”

“One of my primary goals as a leader at CAPS is to continue to diversify our staff and provide increased support to underserved groups,” McCallion said. “One way I do this is by welcoming student voices and feedback about how CAPS can best support their mental health. All voices matter.”

Interim Dean of Students, Adrienne Colegrove-Raymond, explained that the DOS works closely with CAPS.

“They [Dean of students] provide campus resources to support students with health and wellbeing services and resources, one of which is referral to
CAPS,” Colegrove-Raymond said.

CAPS’ response when asked about support for students of color they mentioned that CPH funds Cultural centers that provide culturally responsive ad-
vising, co-curricular programming, safe spaces and trusted connections to the local community. As well CPH provides an Off-campus Housing Coordinator to students who wish to move out of campus housing.

“I feel like Cal Poly Humboldt talks a big game but they ain’t really about it. I believe that representation isn’t something you can just go ahead and say ‘oh you know, we’re working on it,’ it’s either there or it’s not,” Gutierrez said.

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