As of the beginning of next academic year, it is confirmed an additional “Student Health and Wellness Fee” will be incorporated into tuition. This mandatory fee will be $37 per student per semester. It will provide additional funding for the Counseling Center and Health Services to operate at its current capacity and to possibly even expand due to increased demand for mental health services.
The implementation of this fee became necessary because a donation of $200,000, given to the Health and Counseling Centers to help supplement their services five years ago, ran out as of last year. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) allocated $62,500 out of their budget for the services to remain available and free of change for students. Despite this action, the Lewis & Clark administration needed to find a permanent fix, as this was only a temporary solution for the lack of funds.
The fee will be integrated as a part of cost of tuition, even if students do not use on-campus health and wellness services. John Hancock, the Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness and Chief Psychologist, discussed the mandatory nature of the fee.
“There are some groups of students at the college, because of their scholarship coming in, where essentially, the fee is waived,” Hancock said. “For almost all students, it will be a mandatory fee.”
Hancock expanded on the benefits of every student paying the fee.
“If you think about it, this fee is about all community members contributing with the understanding that not everybody is going to use our services every year,” Hancock said. “It’s kind of like insurance, if you will. So with insurance, everyone contributes so people who need the services can access them when they need them. This fee’s kind of the same thing.”
ASLC Senator Nicole Dean ’21 serves on the Student Health Board and has been working with Hancock to find a solution to this lack of funding. She, like Hancock, believes that this fee is necessary due to the rising demand for services.
“Last year, 22 percent of undergraduate students utilized the counseling services,” Dean said. “It is important that students are already waiting long enough to get in to see their counselor, we have a lot of students with dietary restrictions who we want to keep healthy by utilizing the dietitian, and adding another counseling position would make it even more efficient and effective for students to get in and out of the Counseling Service.”
Dean understands that it is an extra financial burden on top of tuition, but there are many students who have the extra income available to fund these necessary services. She believes that while the fee might be a source of frustration for many, it would definitely benefit lower income students.
Mark Duntley, Dean of Spiritual life and Chair of the Student Health Advisory Board, additionally provided a statement on student frustrations with an additional cost via email.
“While I fully understand why students might object to having another fee and to paying more than they already do, I’d remind them that at least by paying this fee they can know that their health and wellness services are being enhanced and supported directly by these fees,” Duntley said. “It certainly will make me sleep better at night knowing that we have not short-changed our students in terms of mental health services and have found a way to solve a very real dilemma that could have had dire consequences for our community.”
Hancock said that the vast majority of funding for the health and wellness services comes from the L&C General Fund. Thus the fee will not provide all of the necessary funding to keep these services afloat but will potentially increase services so more students can access them. Therefore, according to Hancock, Duntley and Dean, this fee will benefit our community as a whole.