The University and Mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans this week for a new hospital in Southeast D.C. that will replace a facility that has faced harsh criticism from the community.
Although that is a positive step for the city, other news negatively affects students in the District. As many students return to school this month, they’ll face increased security that can be dehumanizing and hasn’t been proven effective.
Here’s the best and the worst from this week’s headlines:
The District’s newest hospital will be on the campus of St. Elizabeths East in an area that is often considered one of the poorest in the city. The hospital will be managed by GW Hospital through an advisory board, and doctors from the University will provide care in the facility. This hospital will help bring medical care to an area of the city that needs it most.
The hospital currently in the area, United Medical Center, was plagued with issues last year, including the questionable deaths of patients in the facility’s nursing home and financial troubles arising from poor management by the costly consulting firm hired to run the hospital.
The hospital remains open, but certain aspects of it have been closed due to public safety concerns. By reaching an agreement with GW, the District has found a reliable partner to manage the facility and bring its resources to a population that needs stable support and quality care.
With GW as a partner, the hospital will manage medical problems that plague the city. The District has one of the lowest uninsured rates of any city, but the community in Southeast D.C. has some of the highest rates of medical problems. Southeast D.C., in particular, has high rates of HIV and infant and maternal mortality rates that are higher than any state in the country.
Although the new hospital can’t solve all health problems in Southeast or in the District, it is one big step that the University is taking to help improve health care equality in D.C.
As students return to class this month, schools around the country are considering the expansion of metal detector use following the February shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla. In the District, students will be subjected to security that resembles that of an airport, as metal detectors and x-ray machines are used in every middle and high school in the D.C. Public Schools system.
Despite this security being widespread in D.C., only 10 percent of the nation’s schools use metal detectors.
While some consider the metal detectors and x-ray machines to be a necessary precaution, there’s no real evidence that their use prevents violence in schools. Some studies even show that metal detectors make students feel less safe, and the environment that metal detectors create has been criticized as “institutionalized” and “prison-like.”
Just down the road from many of the schools the District considers dangerous enough to require metal detectors is GW’s campus, where students aren’t asked to pass through metal detectors or place their bags in x-ray machines. Alongside GW, students at many of D.C.’s charter schools also aren’t forced to face increased security. This shows that less disruptive methods of security could leave students just as safe.
At GW, students carry their GWorld cards everywhere they go on campus because the card is necessary for entering most buildings. It is also how students can identify themselves to GW Police Department officers, if necessary. The system of using ID badges to access school buildings or to identify yourself while on campus could just as easily be used in public schools. More than 16 percent of high schools require students to use IDs or photo-identification to enter schools. Perhaps that is one way that District schools can maintain their security without dehumanizing students.
Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a sophomore majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.
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