The Oberlin Review

Students Continue Push for Health Center to Relocate

The+College%E2%80%99s+Student+Health+and+Counseling+centers%2C+at+the+bottom+right+of+the+photo%2C+are+located+more+than+a+quarter+mile+from+the+central+part+of+campus.+Some+students+and+faculty+hope+the+centers+will+be+moved+closer+to+campus.
The College’s Student Health and Counseling centers, at the bottom right of the photo, are located more than a quarter mile from the central part of campus. Some students and faculty hope the centers will be moved closer to campus.

The College’s Student Health and Counseling centers, at the bottom right of the photo, are located more than a quarter mile from the central part of campus. Some students and faculty hope the centers will be moved closer to campus.

Photo by Rick Yu, Photo Editor

Photo by Rick Yu, Photo Editor

The College’s Student Health and Counseling centers, at the bottom right of the photo, are located more than a quarter mile from the central part of campus. Some students and faculty hope the centers will be moved closer to campus.

Sydney Allen, Production Editor

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Members of the Student Health Working Group and Student Senate are pushing for the relocation of the Student Health Center and Counseling Center on the capital planning agenda. The request comes on the heels of a petition released by Student Senate’s Student Health Working Group last April that garnered roughly 650 signatures.

The petition claimed that the location of the Student Health and the Counseling Centers “prevents these resources from effectively serving students” and asked for student support in moving the centers to a more centralized location on campus.

The Student Health and Counseling Centers, located approximately a quarter-mile from main campus, have raised concerns about accessibility and inclusion for many students and administrators.

“Students have identified the location of [Student Health Services] and the [Counseling Center] as a problem at least since the fall of 2013,” said Jeremy Poe, double-degree senior and former Student Health Working Group liaison for Student Senate.

While it has been a student priority for years, the issue has never made it to the Board of Trustees’ capital planning budget, which lists the tasks Trustees most want to get approved. Since relocating has never made it on the budget, the costs and logistics have never been officially looked into.

“It’s inconvenient enough that a lot of folks don’t know where we are, and that’s a problem,” said Kaitlyn McCarthy, a postdoctoral resident at the Counseling Center. “So we would love to be moved closer to campus. We would love more space.”

The Student Health Working Group and Student Senate hope to get written confirmation from the administration or Board of Trustees that will make moving the centers a top priority for the next capital planning budget, which will likely be discussed at the Board of Trustees’ upcoming visit to campus this Thursday.

“Students … feel like they’ve been duped with the last capital planning process,” said Duncan Reid, the current Student Health Working Group liaison for Student Senate and co-chair of the Student Health Working Group. “They feel like while the gym [expansion] is important, some of the other capital planning that is being done with regards to Hall Auditorium and stuff just isn’t necessarily as big of a priority as Student Health.”

Although it is still a concern, Reid added that he feels Student Health has recently been “put on the back burner” by both the campus and Student Senate.

“While low cost and accessible Student Health services will always be a top Student Senate priority, in the light of recent campus-wide and national events, Senate feels that there are more pressing issues at hand.”

Though many agree that moving the centers would be beneficial for the campus, it is still unclear whether that will be financially or logistically feasible for the campus.

While administrators have been holding discussions about potentially having the Student Health and Counseling Centers replace the administrative offices in Carnegie Hall, which are set to be moved to the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center next year, the building would require considerable renovations to meet the strict standards required for a health center.

“Ideally, we would like to move both Student Health and counseling together, and finding space for both services is quite challenging,” said John Harshbarger, director of Student Health Services and the Counseling Center. “Carnegie would not be able to house both Student Health and Counseling sufficiently. And currently, there are no other buildings with sufficient space.”

In the meantime, the Dean of Students Office is “examining options to improve transportation options,” according to Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. Although the Capital Planning Committee’s activities are kept relatively confidential, students who attend the student-trustee sessions next week could have an opportunity to meet with trustees from the Committee.

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