You have nothing if you do not have your health. This old adage is never more appropriate than when discussing the health of the student body here at Portland State University; close quarters, high stress, time and money shortages are all contributing factors which make student health particularly precarious. It is no surprise then, that when an ambitious survey was undertaken by Student Health Services in the 2000-01 school year they received an enthusiastic level of student participation.
Student Health Services, overall, was rated good or excellent, but the overall trend of the survey pointedly reveals that many students are unaware and uneducated about what is offered by Student Health Services. A majority had never visited Student Health Services, 41 percent did not know what types of services were available at the time of taking the survey, despite 40 percent revealing that their poor health had kept them at some point in their school career from finishing a project or meeting a deadline and almost 11percent had considered dropping out of college because of this same reason.
This year ASPSU, under President Mary Cunningham, has engineered a new crusade (and, in doing so, has delivered on her campaign promise) for better and expanded health services for students. Options being investigated by her task force have focused on expanded Health Service Center hours and a possible inclusion of dental insurance. While we strongly agree that these are worthwhile goals we also can not ignore this survey which most assuredly centers much of the concern of students on the most basic needs, namely, a reintroduction to Student Health Services emphasizing location, hours and services already offered (and already paid for.) This is not to say that improvement and health coverage expansion are not needed but to remind student and university administrators that while they leap forward with new, advanced plans many students are not benefiting from the already existing services because of the most innocuous reason – not knowing.