Counseling and Psychological Services moved to its current location at 3624 Market St. in January 2015, after the University announced the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics would take its place adjacent to the Penn Bookstore.
Since the move two years ago, students have debated whether CAPS' new location has made mental health resources more or less accessible.
“So initially, there was definitely vocal concern that this was too far away … When we actually opened up and students began to come here they reported to us something different,” Director of CAPS Bill Alexander said. “[Students] said, ‘Well, actually it is another couple of minutes walk, but we like the privacy because once we get over to Market Street there is a certain anonymity.’”
Alexander added that some students felt self-conscious walking into the old CAPS building because of its highly visible location.
College freshman Tise Ben-Eka said she thinks the new CAPS location is not very accessible, adding that she believes students value accessibility over privacy when visiting CAPS.
College freshman Summer Kapanka said that she thought the move does not provide students with more privacy.
“That’s not a great argument because it’s a lot more obvious if you’re walking all by yourself to Market Street because not many people go there anyways,” Kapanka said. “They’re either going to [Student Health Service] or CAPS, which I think doesn’t protect your privacy at all. I think the accessibility should totally outweigh the proposed privacy of it.”
But some students disagree.
College senior Will Saunders, who has visited CAPS on and off since his freshman year, said he much prefers the new location because of its pristine facilities, larger space and privacy.
Alexander said the primary motivation for choosing the moving to the current location was the space. He said it was nearly impossible to find a space that could accommodate the proposed expansion of CAPS in 2015. The space now is 25 percent bigger than it was before and has 300 percent more space for groups and workshops.
Alexander said at the previous location, the one room available for groups and workshops also served as the staff meeting room and break room. It was “tight," he said.
The current group room is larger and can be divided into four smaller rooms using soundproof partitions that drop down from the ceiling. This new room has allowed CAPS to add mindfulness programs, meditation sessions, the Career Anxiety Workshop and a larger Anxiety Management Workshop.
Alexander also said he doesn’t see CAPS moving in the near future, but added that there has been “conceptual” talk about a wellness center.
“I know there has been, conceptually, people talking about a wellness center which would house CAPS and Student Health and maybe some other things, all in one big building. That building doesn’t exist,” Alexander said. “They would have to find donors and then find space and then build a building. That’s a long way off.”
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