The Cox Health and Counseling Center Needs to Extend Its Hours

Kenyon College offers many wonderful resources to students, one of which is the Cox Health and Counseling Center. With services in both physical and mental health, the Health and Counseling Center performs a very important role for the Kenyon Community. However, there is one critical piece missing which prevents the Center from achieving its goals of  “providing the highest quality of care and support for Kenyon College students” and “increasing the campus capacity to prevent illness, injury, and crisis.” That missing piece is the Center’s limited office hours. 

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 30% of college students struggle with at least one mental disorder. National Public Radio has reported that 1 in 4 students will get the flu every year. These statistics are just a small fraction of the research that demonstrates how important vital health services are to college students. However, despite the importance of accessible health services, the Health Center’s current hours do not reflect this important issue. The Health Center is not open on the weekends, and its hours on weekdays extend from only 8:30 to 5:00 for health and counseling needs. Although the Center provides a 24-hour emergency phone number, that is not adequate to address college students’  needs for assistance.

A typical Kenyon student is busy with extracurriculars and academics throughout weekdays. It is difficult for students to squeeze in medical or counseling appointments during a jam-packed day of classes, clubs, jobs, and rehearsals. Many students prioritize academics and other commitments over their health.  Kenyon’s isolation can also be problematic. If students are injured or need care during the weekend, they must travel to the hospital in Mount Vernon. Since many students don’t have cars, figuring out transportation in a crisis can be difficult.

While it would be ideal for the Health Center to be open 24/7, I realize that there are factors that influence these limited hours. Lack of funding, in particular, is most likely the main reason why there aren’t enough staff members to keep the Health Center open and available at all times. However, I believe that a Kenyon student’s health is something that should be prioritized by the school as highly as a new building. 

There are many doctor’s offices in my hometown that offer appointment slots on Saturday mornings or afternoons in order to accommodate clients whose work or school schedules do not allow them to visit a doctor during the week.  I think that it would be a good idea for the Health Center to open for appointments on either Saturday, Sunday, or a weekday evening. Many large universities, such as Ohio State, offer Saturday hours. There also are a number of small colleges, such as Bryn Mawr and Williams College, whose Student Health Care Centers offer Saturday and Sunday hours.  Both of these colleges have a student population of roughly 2,000 or less, about the same size as Kenyon. If these small schools can afford to keep their student health care services open to students on the weekend, so can Kenyon! 

While we don’t expect that changes to the Health Center will occur overnight, I and other students would like to see the College focus more attention and resources on improving accessibility to the Cox Health and Counseling Center.  Extended hours on evenings or weekends would be a step in the right direction. 

Image Credit: Author, 12