In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to overhaul the current health care system in America. The day before, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster referenced these ongoing reforms when he sent a campus-wide email about the state of the Bowdoin Health Center. In light of Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes’ imminent departure, the school is reviewing the structure of the College’s Health Center. In his email, Foster outlined three possible plans for its future: a partnership with an outside agency to handle increasingly complex administrative work, a complete replacement of the staff with employees of a private firm, or a continuation of the College’s current system with a new director.
We welcome this review. Although the Health Center received its highest approval rating ever—76 percent—in the fall installment of the Orient’s biannual approval ratings survey, it has consistently ranked among the lowest of campus administrators and offices. Even with higher ratings this year, a vocal minority still expressed the need for improvement. One female senior wrote last spring: “Bowdoin should be ashamed of the poor quality of the services provided by the Health Center. It’s a joke.” These complaints are nothing new. A 2005 Orient editorial called for extended weekend hours,continuing a decades-long debate over the availability of health care on campus. Last year, Hayes told the Bowdoin Student Government that the opening of the Mid Coast Primary Care and Walk-in Clinic had alleviated demand for walk-in hours. While we understand that the Health Center is not a 24-hour hospital, we believe that busy students would benefit from a daily drop-in hour after classes.
The Dean’s office could have reviewed the Health Center behind closed doors and announced its findings to the community once a decision was made. We thank Foster for reaching out to the campus in his email. Amidst the confusion and anxiety that have recently characterized national health care, we feel lucky to have a low-hassle system in the serene atmosphere of the Buck Center for Health and Fitness. Under the current system, an ailing student does not have to worry about providing insurance details or other personal information for a checkup. The Health Center’s total integration into the College makes dealing with sickness simple, particularly when health concerns can interfere with a student’s campus life. While we might not immediately notice a change in the Health Center’s staffing, it would—in all likelihood—impact our lives at the College. We are glad that any changes made to the administration of the Health Center will come as the result of a thorough on-campus dialogue. While we may be exhausted by the national debate, we look forward to exploring new options at Bowdoin.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Erica Berry, Nora Biette-Timmons, Garrett Casey, Ron Cervantes, Marisa McGarry, Sam Miller and Kate Witteman.