A lack of resources prevents improvements to student health, according to students and administrators in a panel on student health in the Healey Family Student Center on Wednesday.
At the panel sponsored by the Georgetown University Student Association, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said the university is looking to increase the number of resources available for student health.
“Short-term vision: More space, more integration, some more exam rooms. We need a little more square footage where we are,” Olson said. “That will help a lot.”
The roundtable, moderated by GUSA Mental Health Policy Team Chair Sylvia Levy (SFS ’18), featured Olson, Assistant Vice President of Student Health Vince WinklerPrins, Director of the Student Health Center Leanne Lash and Director of the Student Health Insurance Office Laura Hardman Crosby.
GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) said one of his initial goals is to improve Student Health Center accessibility.
“The number one thing would be access to appointments,” Mack said. “This goes back to what I said earlier, because sometimes there are just constraints that limit what the Student Health Center can do.”
Olson said Georgetown’s commitment to Catholic and Jesuit values inspires its policies on healthcare. Currently, the Affordable Care Act requires student health insurance plans to cover contraception.
Under the Trump Administration, this provision may be changed, and students may not be insured for contraception.
Reproductive justice advocacy group H*yas for Choice Co-president Brinna Ludwig (NHS ’17) said contraception is not in opposition to the university’s Catholic values.
“I personally think that providing contraception is not in conflict with Catholic values,” Ludwig said. “I think that the fact that a majority of Catholics use some form of contraceptives is a testament to that. I think they purposely withhold certain information that makes Georgetown less marketable and less accessible to non-Catholic students and I think it’s negligent for student health.”
According to Mack, the nuances of Catholicism and contraception are unique within a college setting.
“That’s always a difficult conversation to have because as Dr. Olson mentioned, we are a Catholic and Jesuit institution, and that’s valuable. That’s something that makes Georgetown unique, and it’s something that we’ve been since the beginning,” Mack said. “At the same time, we have a student body that is of college age and we have different health needs that that brings up. It’s definitely good to see that Dr. Olson recognizes that.”
The university is making efforts to provide lower-cost health services for students. Lash, who joined Georgetown this semester, said the Student Health Center aims to put out baskets with menstrual health care products and is planning to put out more in the future.
Co-president of H*yas for Choice Emily Stephens (SFS ’17) said she is optimistic about Lash’s plans to provide free menstrual health products Student Health Center.
“I was super inspired by Dr. Lash, the new director of the Student Health Center,” Stephens said. “She started in January, and she seems really passionate about addressing the issues that we’ve been bringing up for close to two semesters now, and she seems like she’s noticed those things independently and is actively trying to address them now, so I really like her a lot.”