Column: S is for Student Health

At college, the close living quarters, the substance abuse, the sexual contact and the fast food put our physical health at risk. In order for the student body to withstand such a harsh lifestyle, we need a high quality and convenient student health system. We need healthy food, cheap STD testing and safe campus policies. Most of our physical health is in our own hands. You decide what to eat and who to touch when you are naked. But there are aspects of student health in which students are at the mercy of University policy.

My concerns concentrate on when the clinic is open and how much they charge for STD testing. Given students are the only people using these facilities, Student Health should be geared to students in every way. Further, it is important that GW’s alcohol policy is conducive to creating a safe and healthy environment for students. Current policies actually discourage students from getting medical attention when they need it. I have three suggestions for how GW can make it easier for students to be healthy.

My first suggestion is that GW offer the student body affordable testing for sexually transmitted diseases. At the GW student clinic, it costs $100 plus a $15 fee to get tested for gonorrhea, Chlamydia and HIV. Other tests cost additional money and must be ordered specially by a doctor at the clinic. Although Planned Parenthood can help students find cheaper testing around the city, students should not have to take the Metro across town for affordable STD tests. Student Health should be geared toward students. Most students can’t wait for the opportunity to ask their parents for 150 bucks for STD tests. Many students do not have access to that kind of money whenever they need it. High costs at Student Health discourage students from getting tested.

My second suggestion is that Student Health operate during hours when students are not in class. Maybe it would make more sense for doors to open in the afternoon and stay open into the evening. The Student Health clinic is open on Saturdays until 1 p.m. and closed all day on Sunday. Such an operating schedule leaves students a two-night gap in getting any kind of medical attention not in the emergency room. I understand it costs more money to be open on Sundays. But the point of Student Health is to provide health services; administrators should re-arrange the operating schedule to be closed while most students are in class. For most of the weekend, the ER should not be your only option.

My last concern is about GW’s alcohol policy. Right now, students using EMeRG. can count on their parents being notified about the incident. Like children, the University tells on you to your parents. Not only is the policy ridiculous for any adult, it is actually dangerous for college students. When a drunken student really needs help, GW should not be discouraging students from getting it. The consequences of one bad decision should not mean being forced into another bad decision.

The goal of policy within a University community should be to keep the students as safe and healthy as possible. I am concerned that the price of STD testing on campus is discouraging students from getting the testing that they need. It is obvious that the alcohol policy can discourage students that are sick from getting help. I am surprised that University administrators are still so out of touch. Although students and the administration will never agree on all aspects of things like alcohol policy, I hope that we can all agree to make student safety our guiding principle.

-The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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