The Health Plan Advisory Council and Student Senate sponsored four forums this week to gather input about changes students wish to see implemented in next year's revamped Student Health services.
The retirement of College Physician Judith Appleton Oct. 1 marked the end of an era for Student Health, as the entire system will be completely reworked and possibly relocated for next school year.
Only moderate crowds attended the forums, which were held for students to discuss the general Health Plan Tuesday night at North and South Halls and to talk about health issues for people of color and women Wednesday night at Third World House and Baldwin Cottage. The Advisory Council and Senate also distributed surveys for students to fill out expressing their health service needs.
"We've received a lot of good input from the surveys, and the students we've actually gotten to talk to who have come to the forums have been really good to talk with, but we still need more student input," Advisory Council member sophomore Kyl Dinsio said.
"There's an unbelievable amount of confusion among students about this issue. People don't seem to understand what's going on or what their options are," senator junior Meagan Willits, also a Council member, said.
Students attending the forums began working through their confusion while making suggestions for new Student Health programs to facilitating Council members.
Issues addressed by students included the desire for a convenient location and greater flexibility in hours in which students can be examined and treated.
"When I get sick it would be nice to know there's someone for me to go to. I don't always get sick from nine to five," junior Steffany Haaz said.
Other students emphasized the importance of caring staff members who are aware of the needs of a diverse population of students.
"As an African-American male, I think a lot of people of color feel uncomfortable when they're not seen by doctors of color," senior Ryan Canty said. "I'd like to see more personnel of color in Student Health."
Issues of women's health were also a concern. "No one is very clear about just what women are currently entitled to; that's one main problem," Dinsio said.
Many students also focused on the need for alternative medicine options. "The health plan should be subject to different types of medicine, not just Western-at least there should be a doctor who has a basic knowledge of other kinds of medicine," first-year Mike Hodapp said.
Willits and Dinsio are two of the five voting student members of the Health Plan Board, which also consists of five faculty members. The Board will ultimately make the decision on how Student Health is to be run in the future.
"What serves as a guideline for our final decision is what five students are told about this issue by students who want to make their voices heard," Willits said.
Organizations interested in taking responsibility for Student Health at Oberlin must submit proposals, based on the Request For Proposal (RFP) the College drafted and sent out to them this summer, to the Health Plan Board within the next few weeks. Though the deadline was originally Sept. 20, the Board extended it to Nov. 1 so organizations would have more time to write their proposals.
After this week's student forums, the Advisory Council and the Board jointly decided to extend the deadline again by several weeks so new student input could be conveyed to interested organizations and incorporated into their proposals.
The Advisory Council and faculty members independently will put together a list of baseline items proposals must contain in order to be considered for acceptance by the Board. These mandatory terms will be based on survey results, the four forums held this week and the two to be held in the near future for students with disabilities and other interested organizations.
Faculty and Council members will then negotiate a final list of mandatory components proposals must contain.
"Before we want a proposal to come in, we want to take input from students. If a proposal doesn't include certain items we've previously decided are mandatory, we'll throw it away without even considering it," Willits said.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 7, October 31, 1997
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