University of Maryland President Daryll Pines announced at a Residence Hall Association meeting on Tuesday that the University of Maryland Police Department created a crisis intervention team and the counseling center has expanded services to better mental health.
In a Q&A session with RHA, Pines said UMPD officers will have 12 officers be specifically trained in crisis intervention, particularly with “complex” mental health problems.
The university president announced UMPD will be trained in understanding signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses and disorders, recognizing signs and symptoms for a crisis situation and how to safely deescalate individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
Pines said the administration wants to implement more consistent diversity, equity and inclusion training mandatory for police officers, which UMPD has done occasionally. Pines added administration is planning to review when officers need to bring weapons, such as taser, to certain situations and train officers to use minimal force.
Pines said this training is in the early stages and may take up to a year to implement.
Pines said the Counseling Center wants to employ mental health workers, instead of police officers, for wellness checks.
The University Health Center offers a variety of wellness services. It has varying services for personal wellness, such as meditation and community wellness resources such as emotional support animals.
The health center also has more urgent behavioral health resources like urgent scheduled crisis intervention, substance use intervention and treatment and medication management.
“It’s a gray zone for the police and a gray zone for the counseling center,” Pines said. “But I think we’re trying to get to a point where the Counseling Center is employing people rather than UMPD.”
Kaili Nakanishi, a Denton senator, had a personal experience with wellness checks and UMPD. When she asked her professor for one, UMPD showed up at her dorm. It was unexpected, she said. She wishes for a warning on when UMPD will come in the future.
“They just showed up one day and I was literally in the bathroom,” Nakanishi said. “And I was you know, I was naked.”
In addition to the new partnership, the Counseling Center hired up to seven new clinicians that will expand treatment services. The center has obtained eight brain sensing headbands, which students can check out for 40 minutes. The bands focus on meditation and mindfulness.
Pines also announced that the university is in line to increase the student minimum wage to $15 an hour before the 2025 deadline. The University System of Maryland approved a $15 minimum wage for union workers, but not for student workers, last year. RHA passed a resolution earlier this semester that supports an immediate wage increase for student workers from $12.05 to $15 an hour.
The university president added administration is trying not to raise student fees while trying to raise the student worker minimum wage. Pines said he also has to consider that this wage increase may cause salary compressions — or little difference in pay among employees with varying skills — and have “ripple effects” on other campus employees.
“No one class of students will bear the entire burden and we are going to rebuild in a deliberate, and forward-thinking manner,” Pines said.
Pines said student employees are considered “self-support employees.” Most student workers are compensated through “soft money” or pay derived from student fees. Pines said to not increase student fees, the administration is looking at other resources and portfolio funds.
Vivian Flanagan, a junior public health science major and co-sponsor of the bill that supports a $15 minimum wage for student workers, said she was surprised at the administration’s “considerate” response.
“Sometimes as student leaders, you just come to expect a little bit of inaction,” the marketing and technology officer said. “But I really, really thank you for the effort that your administration has been behind it and to know that our voices are heard as members of student offices.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the university Counseling Center offers a variety of wellness services. The health center offers these services. This story has been updated.