SGA plans to shut down Peer Advising and Center


Senior Alexis Walker, a peer tutor, helps a student in the Advising Center, Sept. 19. Created in 2014, the center will shut down next year at the termination of its contract with SGA.

SGA is shutting down the Advising Center as its four-year contract comes to a close, leaving thousands of students without peer advising programs. 

The center was created in 2016 to act as a guide, encouraging UVM’s colleges to set up their own peer-to-peer advising, but only the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Grossman School of Business have created their own programs. 

That leaves about 7,586 students without a peer advising program. 

Senior Meagan Cummins, chair of the SGA Academic Affairs Committee, said because the contract expires in June 2020, the end of this fiscal year, the center will not continue. 

“The Peer Advising Center is closing because four years ago, that’s the contract they signed,” Cummins said. “If there was enough growth, we would consider renewing that funding, or they were supposed to be looking for funding coming from other places.”

The center was created in 2015 when a student came to SGA and voiced their concern of inadequate advising at the University, said junior Olivia Lopez, peer advisor and SGA senator. SGA came up with a plan to give $170,000 to the center each year. 

Junior Emma Einhorn, a peer advisor, has been with the center for two years and said she thinks colleges haven’t created their own programs due to the cost. 

“We were a model for the colleges to follow with their own advising centers, but the colleges, from what I know, have not been receptive to that because everything costs money,” Einhorn said. 

Center employees felt like they didn’t have a chance at fighting the decision because by the time they found out about the closing, it was too late, junior peer advisor Matt Hagberg said. 

Hagberg said if he had known the contract was ending, he would’ve reached out to the colleges to emphasize the importance and role of peer advising. 

“In the end it’s a huge disservice to the students,” Hagberg said. “That’s why it’s so frustrating is that nobody seems to have an answer for me when I’m like ‘okay, but what are these students doing before colleges adopt the peer advising model?’”

Cummins said SGA’s only role was to fund the program. 

“We just saw a huge gaping hole in the administration’s responsibility to provide accurate and helpful advising on campus,” Cummins said. “Once we decided to fund and set up the model we handed it over to the advising center.” 

Despite seeing that hole, it will remain unfilled as the remaining colleges are slow to answer the call for peer advising.