University Health Services is currently located in Erickson Hall, in close proximity to the residence halls. The proposed move would drastically change that. Photo by Priya Patel
With the construction of the UMBC Event Center and the relocation of various sports teams to the new facilities, campus administration has elected to relocate several offices to the now vacant Retriever Activity Center. Included in this move are two offices that had previously been located near the residential halls on the other side of campus: University Health Services and the Counseling Center.
On the surface, this move may seem beneficial. These are services that have likely outgrown their current spaces and are in need of a relocation. However, when considering the role of these amenities, problems become apparent. These services exist for the convenience and benefit of students in crisis, and they cannot serve that role as efficiently after this move.
Currently, it takes a student living on campus in the residential halls less than five minutes on average to get to the Counseling Center or UHS. If they were in the RAC that time would balloon to more than ten minutes for an able-bodied individual. This estimate inflates even further as one realizes who would be using the UHS: largely students living in residential halls.
In particular, students who need to use the services offered are often not in the best shape to travel long distances. As anyone who has ever been bedridden with the flu can attest, the idea of going down a flight of stairs is daunting enough. It would be quite the feat to make it all the way across a campus that is, presently, anything but accommodating to that trek.
As Sonia Borenstein, a sophomore studying music composition, explains, “The UHS being in the RAC is fundamentally wrong, reason being: the primary users are residential students.” Borenstein, who lives in Patapsco Hall, continues, “This makes it inaccessible to residential students who are sick, who probably cannot make it all the way down … especially from the res halls.”
In addition to the increased distance, the new location of the UHS may force sick students to traverse greater crowds. With the Quad unavailable to students, someone heading to the RAC must take a longer route through Academic Row, often the busiest part of campus. This not only slows the progress of a sick student trying to get across, but also puts every other person in the crowd at risk of infection.
The UHS was unavailable for a statement on this issue.
It is conceivable that the new location of the services would be more convenient for some students who commute to campus. However, John Platter, a junior studying psychology, rebuffs this notion. “Commuters get their primary care off campus,” he says. “No commuter goes to UHS for their primary care.”
Like many students, Platter expresses his overall dissatisfaction with the move: “Just because it is a change does not mean it is a change for the better.”