This semester, Southern Adventist University’s Student Success Center created a new initiative called “Let’s Chat.” Let’s Chat is a service provided by the Retention Services’ Student Support Team and exists to reach students that may not otherwise come to the Student Success Center to get the academic or personal help they need. Students can access the current schedule on the Retention Services website and will soon have a QR code they can scan to find the “Let’s Chat” times and locations.
According to Cheri Durst, Retention Services Coordinator, “Let’s Chat” is based on a Cornell University program called “Let’s Talk.” According to Cornell’s website, ‘Let’s Talk” is nationally recognized for its success in increasing student access to mental health care [and has] been adopted by nearly 100 universities and colleges nationwide.”
“Let’s Chat” is Southern’s customized version of the program. “Let’s Chat” is led by social work and counseling graduate students from the Student Support Team. Everyday they sit at various locations across campus, including both residence halls, McKee Library, and Iles P.E. Center, providing students with a walk-in opportunity to privately ask a question or share a concern and, as deemed necessary, be referred to the relevant resources available across campus. According to Durst, “Let’s Chat” offers convenient, immediate opportunities for students to see what it might be like to talk to a counselor.
“We reach out to students and offer them services,” Durst said. “If they choose to come in, we are happy to help them. …I think the Student Support Managers would love nothing more than to have students just stop by and sit and chat with them.”
According to Durst, the general response to “Let’s Chat” from many students has been that they do not know what it is.
“I never heard of “Let’s Chat” until you mentioned it,” said Kelly Gustrowsky, sophomore English major. “I would think it would be an app where you can chat with people about stuff, anything. …I’m really not sure.”
The Student Support Managers have also noticed that many students are unaware of the “Let’s Chat” service.
“Not many people talk,” Joshuwa Shelton, Student Support Manager said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, okay cool.’ And they walk away. I’ve probably talked to or helped three students this semester. But overall, I think it’s nice that students know that we’re there.”
As more people become aware of the program, Durst hopes that the people who need help will learn to seek it. “I think “Let’s Chat” emphasizes the importance of student success to Southern because we are putting ourselves out there where the students are,” Durst said. “Everything we do is about developing relationships, and I think it’s a relationship-building capability to go where the students are.”