In 2016, the health center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, saw 66% of the student body, according to the Campus Health and Wellbeing website.
With fewer counselors and medical providers met by an increasing student body, health center administrative staff have proposed a fee adjustment for incoming students to pay.
For Mustang News, my team covered the fee adjustment, attending both forums, and talking to students, staff, and faculty about their thoughts on the proposal.
What Will Change?
With the proposed fee increase, only new students to the university will have to pay the adjusted fee. If approved, the fee would roll in during the 2018 Fall Quarter, with a 4% increase every year.
Currently, enrolled students pay $315 a year ($105 each quarter). The proposal has two different options for fees: Option A is $612 a year ($204 a quarter), and Option B is $657 a year ($219 a quarter).
Health center staff made students aware of this proposal by hosting two open forums, presenting to classes, and posting an ad on the Cal Poly portal.
Health center administrative staff cited the following as improvements:
- Cutting walk-in wait time and future appointments in half
- Utilizing new technologies to improve student experiences such as text notifications and telehealth
- Improve the counselor-to-student ratios to be at or above national benchmark standards
- Cut wait times to see counselors and increase quantity of sessions
- Expand weekday hours into the evenings
When Reilly did her reporting to write the article on this topic, she got to hear several student perspectives, but she said that “what has been most striking to [her] upon interviewing students about their health center horror stories, is that even though they have complained that the health center didn’t have adequate services for them, they are still reluctant to support a fee increase that would bring them those services.”
In both open forums that my group attended, health center staff openly noted how they’ve heard student complaints getting worse for years.
Aaron Baker, the Director of Health Services, said that “the health center listens to students through comments” received on comment cards, and that students have continually expressed frustration over long wait times. Yet Reilly noted that students were reluctant to enforce an increased fee (which could be for a number of reasons) even when it’s supposed to bring the increased care they seek.
The last time the campus health center raised fees was in 2009, using an alternative consultation process like they’re using now. In an alternative consultation process, student input is gathered online through comments and in person through forums. Those comments are then sent in a report to President Armstrong, who ultimately decides if the fee is implemented.
To Navid, after going to both forums, “it became clear that the health center has considered raising their fees for quite some time, especially since the last time they raised them in 2009.”
It interests me how current students have to vote on this proposal, yet incoming students who the fee will impact don’t have a say. Each year, their fee will increase 4%. In February, the results of the fee proposal will be public for incoming students to make their decisions, but I have a feeling that students will overlook this.
For Reilly, once she had talked to “a variety of students that have bad, personal experiences at the health center, it seems like this is an issue that needs to be addressed.” She thought that by hosting forums, the health center staff “[were] doing a great job of taking the ideas and opinions of students to form this proposal.”