Letter to the Editor: Putting Student Health First
Thomas Lane ’24 responds to changes in the College’s overnight infirmary fee policy.
At long last, there will no longer be fees for students accessing overnight infirmary care due to intoxication or other health issues. Often, such fees are based on the outdated theory that charging a fee for emergency care that remedies poor choices, such as the decision to excessively consume alcohol, will discourage people from making those choices to begin with. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s face it: no student deciding to drink considers the possibility of having to go to the infirmary later that night. All it really does, as Dartmouth Student Government explained to College administrators when advocating for this change, is scare those in need from seeking medical attention when they need it. At that point, we are dealing with harm reduction, not prevention, and the most cost-effective way to reduce harm is to intervene as soon as possible. Unaddressed medical problems only get more expensive the longer the patient waits, and fees scare patients into waiting longer because they often think that the problem just will go away with time, or that it’s not really that bad. I might even propose that the College never charge students for getting the care they need, but that is for another day. Kudos to Dartmouth for finally recognizing that these fees don’t work and adjusting policy accordingly. These changes will better tailor our health service to how people actually behave, and also minimize the harm from the choices some will unfortunately but inevitably make.
Thomas Lane is an Opinion editor from the Class of 2024. Letters to the Editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.