By Trent Hale*
What may be surprising to students stepping on to a college or university campus for the first time is that there is more to be learned than just how to make good grades in your classes or how to manage a schedule. There exists within a university a whole microcosm, institution, and community that is uniquely its own. Beyond learning where their classes are, where to get textbooks, or what student organizations they want join, college students also learn about how a university works and what each department provides. It seems inevitable that, eventually, a student will have some kind of interaction with an office on campus that would be labeled “Student Services.” What role, exactly, does a Student Services office play in the grand scheme of things?
Despite already spending three years of my life within a university setting, it was not until I began serving with the office of Student Legal and Mediation Services that I came to understand the vital position the Student Services holds in supporting the mission of the university community in ensuring that students have access to quality higher education.
Offices like Student Legal and Mediation Services may seem, at first glance, nothing more than a supplemental luxury for the university community, but, in reality these services provide students with the quality support they need to achieve their academic goals. During the last fiscal year at Student Legal and Mediation Services, for example, 78.52% of the students who came to SLMS for a consultation reported that, prior to coming to SLMS, their legal issue was causing them stress – stress that is unneeded, and, if gone unaddressed, could drastically interfere with academic success. Furthermore, 55.4% reported that their legal matter was affecting their academic focus, and 28.2% of our clients even reported that, prior to coming to SLMS, they were considering leaving school because of their legal matter.
What these numbers show the SLMS team is that, without the legal advice and support provided by Sam Houston’s Student Services through the SLMS office, there is the potential that Sam Houston students may unnecessarily face stressful legal situations that hinder their mission of achieving their personal educational goals. For those of us who serve at SHSU, we have an ardent interest in seeing that the students of SHSU have ample opportunities to garner transformative educational experiences and skills for their professional lives. It is for this reason that Student Services is so much more than a “luxury;” it is a vital facet of the of the university system.
Here at Student Legal and Mediation Services, we have an eye towards the student. What I mean by that is that we recognize that our mission and our primary function is to provide quality legal advice, mediation services, and education on legal matters and dispute resolution so that those students who come to us and report that they are considering suspending the pursuit of their academic goals receive the support they need to return their focus to the primary reason they are here at SHSU – higher education.
If you have a legal matter that has left you with questions or may even be distracting you from your studies, SLMS is here to help you get back to the important work of your academic career. Call us at 936-294-1717 or email us at email@example.com to set up and appointment with our attorney.