In the proposed budget cuts announced by the Whitworth administration several weeks ago, one of the announcement’s central features was to restructure the Whitworth health center services to save an estimated $250,000. One restructuring possibility is to outsource student health care to a third party, as Whitworth has done with the bookstore. Although this board acknowledges the need for budget cuts, we caution Whitworth to think about the consequences of a third party taking over the Health Center.
Third-party presence isn’t consistent with the Whitworth experience or culture. For example, take the professor-student relationship. Whitworth holds a high reputation for having solid relationships between students and professors. Whitworth is community-oriented, and the idea of third parties strays from the culture of Whitworth. The connotation of a third party does not hold the weight of a good relationship, nor does it offer a sense of community. It’s simply incongruent with Whitworth’s philosophy. Whitworth cares for the mind and heart, but leaves the body to someone else?
Aside from cultural grievances, there also seems to be a problem with the third-party system.
The bookstore has retained its employees, but there has been a problem with receiving books in a timely manner — for some classes, it has taken at least two weeks to receive necessary text books. In some cases, it will take months. Jamba Juice isn’t thriving, possibly because an on-campus setting is not consistent with the type of smoothie you can get off campus. As of yet, it’s of yet unknown what sort of oversight Whitworth has for either of these third-party institutions other than that of a “landlord-tenant” relationship. Will the potential third-party Health Center receive the same level of laissez-faire oversight?
The board would not be so bold as to condemn the project out of hand. We do not know if the Health Center will be outsourced, let alone successful. However, we ask that in the administration’s decision making process, they give judicious review to the current third-party efforts on campus, as well as the long-term effects of third-party leasing on the campus culture in the name of streamlined efficiency.