By Claire Mathews-Lingen
Ed Whipple and Carol Long came to the ASWU meeting on Nov. 30 to offer insight into the Bishop/Salem Health conversation as well as answer to students’ concerns. The two hour long discussion was well attended, it opened by discussing the 4.7 million dollar budget deficit that WU is facing. Carol Long predicted “this year will be the last year of these serious cuts.” (at least three million dollars must be cut this year).
In the coming years Willamette will not just be cutting, but also looking to reinvest and build income. Early in the meeting Carol Long admitted to the issues with how Bishop was cut stating “It’s not good policy or practice to take something away without a replacement.” Whipple opened by saying, “We want to know what is important to students.” Students have already voiced that healthcare is what is important. In the budget conversation administrators are concerned with retention.
A student pointed out that people go on medical leave and end up withdrawing from WU, healthcare helps retention and enrollment. A student from the Budget Advisory committee said there were other cuts to make within Student Affairs that would not have hurt the entire student body. Why was Bishop cut over these other options?
“Bishop was the option with an alternative.” Whipple shared citing Salem Health as the alternative. Senator Gupton asked, “Did you look anywhere besides Salem health for partnerships?” Whipple said, “No.”
Senator Mackey pointed to the Bishop assessment conducted last year, which detailed the direct importance of Bishop determinined health services being on campus, how physical and mental health are deeply linked, and the ways in which healthcare touches every aspect of student life. This decision goes directly against the warnings of this report. “If you are not well you cannot engage in activities or academics,” Whipple said as another senator’s statement sunk in. Whipple said, “We cannot compromise on sexual health, DACA students, international students, women’s health, different insurance needs, if the model Salem Health comes back with is missing some aspect of these I will not compromise on them.”
By the end of the meeting apologies had been delivered by both Long and Whipple. Whipple said that students will be involved in the conversation from the start in the next round of cuts, we as students must hold the administration to that.
Whipple left on the promise that, “We will come back anytime.”
ASWU Senate meetings are weekly every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Ford 102. All students are welcome to attend.