Letter to the Editor: Former OSLC staff speaks out

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To the Editor:

We thank the Record for attempting a balanced account of the closing of the Office of Student Life Counseling (OSLC) in its front page article on September 23, but wish to correct some inaccuracies and provide historic context:

1. The article states that OSLC was founded in the 1970’s to provide specifically career-related counseling to law students. On the contrary, Dr. Byers was recruited from the business school in 1977 and provided not only career but also personal counseling in coordination with the law school Health Services. OSLC was not formed until the late 1980’s, however, when former Dean of Students Sarah Wald saw the need for an in-house counseling staff reporting to the Dean of Students. Dr. Byers was appointed director. Dr. Statlender and Dr. Newburgh were hired to address gender and diversity issues, in response to student requests for confidential, culturally-sensitive counseling services.

2. Despite our mandate to provide short-term counseling (shared with the University Health Services), considerably more students saw us on a repeated basis than the figure of 14 that was cited in the article. That figure may have been derived from the school’s non-anonymous exit interview, which would discourage full reporting, or from a tally of “at risk” students, who were not the only ones seen over time. Our appointment records for last year alone document significantly more than 14 students who saw us for multiple visits. During most years, we saw students an average of 2 – 4 times; for Drs. Statlender and Newburgh, as much as 5 – 6 times.

Regardless of the number of sessions, we have been consistently impressed by our students’ use of counseling to master the challenges of life in law school, and have felt tremendously enriched by our work with them.

3. Given our abrupt departure, students may not know how to reach us. Dr. Tracey Spencer-Newburgh, now at Georgetown Law School, may be emailed at tlsnewburgh@verizon.net. Dr. Byers and Dr. Statlender are in private practice nearby and may be reached at byers1@rcn.com and SStatlende@aol.com. Former staff assistant Elizabeth Hansen may be reached at ehansen@LexSA.com.

Mark Byers, Ph.D., former director, OSLCSheila M. Statlender, Ph.D., former Student Life CounselorTracey Spencer-Newburgh, Ph.D., former Student Life Counselor

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