Kopchick: The Wellness Center’s moratorium on sick notes will physically harm vulnerable students

Rowan's Wellness Center is in Winans Hall. The Wellness Center hosted the fourth annual “Out of the Darkness Campus Walk” to aid in suicide awareness. - File Photo / Amanda Palma

It is common knowledge that the temperature and hours of daylight are inversely proportional to incidences of sickness. As more and more people seek shelter from the cold, public facilities become breeding grounds for malevolent microorganisms.

Even though I am an athlete on the swim team and maintain my health to preserve my performance, I am a human being who gets sick just like everyone else. Being sick in class won’t actually help me learn material; at best, I will be too distracted to listen to any lecture, and at worst I will be a public health hazard while my condition worsens from the strain of exerting myself. Either way, no one benefits from sick kids in college classrooms.

So, one might be able to imagine my disbelief when I went to the Wellness Center, the most available health resource to me, and they refused to offer me a doctor’s note. They admitted that I was sick, but wouldn’t give anything that would excuse me from classes. Inspira Urgent Care on Rowan Boulevard now has the same policy of not offering notes to excuse college students from class, even when they are clearly ill.

The fact that some students could use the Wellness Center and Inspira Urgent Care as platforms to avoid attending class should not reduce in significance situations in which students are actually sick, in particular contagious illnesses. Many Rowan students are located far from their primary care physicians, and do not have the time or resources to obtain their own legitimate doctor’s notes.

That being said, the Wellness Center and Urgent Care should provide doctor’s notes to sick students, specifically for contagious illnesses requiring prescription medication and extensive recovery time. These resources theoretically exist on campus to benefit the health of the entire Rowan community, and to limit their scope out of fear that some students would take advantage is only acting to punish every other student who truly needs the time to recuperate without facing negative academic consequences.

Rest is crucial for mental and physical health. When you sleep, you consolidate memories and undergo restoration and detoxification on a cellular level. Missing this rest to drag oneself to classes out of fear of not meeting some arbitrary attendance threshold, isn’t a mark of perseverance – it’s a mark of an education system which is apathetic to the needs of disabled, chronically ill or simply unlucky students, those who need the most support in the first place.

Health is a precious commodity that should never be taken for granted, and in cloistered college environments, transmissible illnesses are at high risk for running rampant. There is only so much disinfecting the janitorial staff can accomplish. It isn’t as if we can walk around in giant hamster balls or wear space suits, and there is no way to completely protect ourselves from germs.

As members of this university, the sole reason why we are here is to realize and maximize our potentials. A key component of attaining said potential is the maintenance of balance. As Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “nature abhors extremes.” For this reason it is not weak to rest, rather it is an essential component of our well-being.

At the end of the day, we are the people who are paying to receive an education. We are also paying for the services of the Wellness Center. When our systems are hijacked by microorganisms and our immune system cells are fighting hard, the body must be encouraged to rest and repair itself. If Rowan can’t guarentee this recovery for all students, it fails to deliver the effective learning environment that is necessary for success of its most vulnerable students.

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