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by Stephanie Flegel

When students think of university, the words education, research and maybe even athletics are tossed around. But the University of Regina provides a wealth of other services in an aim to be a supportive community for students.

The university administration and the University of Regina Students’ Union have built an entire under-belly of services to meet the needs of the students. Services include personal counselling, the women’s centre, the student advocate, emergency financial funds and many more services that are provided by URSU and the university administration.

It's a commitment on the part of the university as a way of supporting students to be successful here, said Brian Sveinson, director of the U of R counselling services.

Most students who use counselling services are dealing with stress related issues, he added. He uses the analogy of juggling to describe many students lives. Sveinson says when a student begins to get stressed, their anxiety rises and sometimes the balls can get dropped; that is where counselling services comes in. They offer students both one-on-one counselling as well as various seminars and groups.

Karene Hawkins is another resource that students can access when they are having difficulties. She is employed by URSU as a student advocate, which she says means she is doing something different each day.

Hawkins deals with any problem that a student may have. It may be academic or not, on-campus or off. Hawkins says many students make use of her services, but she says students often don't know about the student advocate until they find themselves in need of one.

Sveinson says the same is true for counselling services. Although he doesn't know the exact number of students who make use of counselling services, he estimates it to be about ten per cent of students. He adds that if he could improve the services he would focus on having more advertising and student awareness about the various services that are available. Both services say they advertised around campus, but are continually looking for new ways to reach students.

I find the university to be a compassionate place. We do find ways to accommodate and make sure people get done what they need to get done to pass the class, said Sveinson.

Sean Dunham, URSU vice-president of student affairs, believes most students would have a hard time going through their university career without coming into contact with at least one of URSU's services, whether it be printing services, the gym or even the Lazy Owl Bar and Grill. He himself has made use of the Good Food box during his student career as an affordable way to get fresh produce and other food items.

Many student services appear to be free of cost, but this is a bit deceiving. In reality, students pay for these services through tuition fees. Students taking five classes pay approximately $2400 per semester. Of that, approximately $2000 goes to the university administration and the remaining $400 goes towards a full roster of students union related. There is also health and dental fees that get tacked on to ensure that students have access to health care.

Each of the free services receives funding from one of these fee categories.

I think being a student is hard enough already, so having someone that is looking out for your best interest and trying to get us the best deal, said Dunham.

Dunham supports students funding services and would like to see the range of directly funded services to expand to include services such as GBLUR, the center for sexuality and gender diversity.

Overall, Sveinson says the variety of different services work together to provide students the best possible learning environment with the end goal of having every student walk across the stage to receive a diploma.