Op-Ed: What to know about moving health services to campus

Julia Susuni is the president of the Student Association, and Mark Levine is the Senior Associate Dean of Students.

Nothing is more important than the health of our student community. That’s why over the past few years, the University has put more focus on the health and counseling services provided to students, adding extra funding and employees to Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center.

But as these services have become more popular, students have begun to question their locations on K Street. Those off-campus spots have been recurring topics of discussion during meetings of the Student Association’s Health and Wellness Task Force, which brings together students and staff to analyze health services provided at GW.

Later this semester, you will be given the opportunity to voice your opinion on the issue through an SA-led student body referendum.

Here’s what students should know:

The University is actively pursuing a reduction in leased office space. And since SHS and UCC are currently housed in leased office space in their K Street locations, it would make sense for these services to be relocated out of their current spaces.

In addition, research shows that there are significant benefits to a centralized, collaborative location for university health and counseling services. Collaboration between health centers on a college campus has often been shown to be cost-effective and student-centered. In fact, the current director of UCC, Dr. Silvio Weisner, came from an institution at which health and counseling services were centrally co-located on campus and benefited from that proximity.

Moving SHS and the UCC will be expensive. But we’re working together to determine just how costly it will be as well as the feasibility of the move.

Unquestionably, the current locations of SHS and UCC have their benefits. In their location at 2141 K Street, the health center has access to other medical facilities in the same building and is able to refer students to get medical imaging, blood work and prescriptions filled all without leaving the building. At 2033 K Street, the counseling center’s location provides discretion for students who might feel that there is a stigma attached to visiting a counseling center.

As the University continues to expand its services provided to students, with ongoing campus development and the implementation of the 10-year strategic plan, it is great to see health services as a central focus of our community. Above all else, it is important to hear student input and find out what the student body would like to see regarding the future of health and counseling services at GW.

Everyone agrees that the health of GW students is a top priority. Let’s continue to work together to ensure that students have access to the services they need and to ensure that our community provides the best support for Colonials now and in the future.

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