ASWC plans for Health Center Advisory Board

Jeremy Alexander

ASWC representatives are preparing a resolution to create an advisory committee for the Welty Health Center. The resolution, written by junior ASWC Senators Olivia Hagel and Nick Hochfeld, is expected to come before the Senate on March 8.

The Welty Health Center is open 24 hours a day and provides many different services to students. The Welty Center provides students 12 overnight beds for if they are sick, physician visits, physical therapy, massage therapy and many other services.

“This year in town halls and in previous years, we have gotten student feedback that they wanted us to look into certain Health Center initiatives. The first-year senators did a poll for all the first-years, and the second most-voted things they wanted was to improve the Health Center,” said Hagel.

Hagel and Hochfeld want the advisory committee to facilitate communication between the Health Center and students. However, student involvement in Health Center policies may prove difficult, as specific individuals’ treatment must remain confidential. Despite this challenge, Health Center Director Claudia Ness would welcome more student feedback.

“We want more information from actual students and what their concerns are rather than what we think their concerns are. Besides just coming in here when you are sick, there are other things we can offer students to stay healthy,” said Ness.

The process of choosing the members of the advisory committee will be an open application for all Whitman students.

“The application will be sent out to entire school and anyone who wants can apply, especially those interested in health or healthcare administration, or those just interested in being liaison for fellow students,” said Hagel.

Applications will then go to the ASWC Nominations Committee, and applicants will undergo the standard interview process. A small group of applicants would be chosen and presented to the ASWC Senate to confirm.

The idea of the Health Center Advisory Board is based partially on the Bon Appétit Advisory Board, a panel of four students who meet with and discuss student input and concerns with the Bon Appétit catering service.

Junior Andrew Reckers acted as a student representative on the Bon Appétit panel for three semesters. According to Reckers, the advisory board proved an effective means to increase students’ voices in decision making.

“Bon [Appétit] was remarkably responsive and it was very surprising since they are a huge company. I expected to not really be able to change offerings, but they were very open to any new popular food choices. There was a lot of potential for students to change how Bon App runs at Whitman, and it was definitely a positive experience,” said Reckers.

The Health Center is enthusiastic about having a committee and wants to keep close contact with its student liaisons. Even though every first-year class comes to the Welty Center with their residence hall sections, Ness believes there needs to be a better connection.

“Having a committee so that students had peers they could go to with questions, concerns [or] suggestions would be less threatening to students than coming in physically. My hope is that this committee would be in a center role, to get everybody’s interest and opinions. It would be very helpful for us,” said Ness.