Vol 12, Issue 9
From day one of law school, right off the bat, it was made very clear that students should make a concerted effort to maintain their physical and mental health. Upper-year students, orientation leaders, and lecturers all vouched for the importance of taking care of yourself and keeping active. To that end, we have the Enrichment Centre, Academic Support Office, Allens yoga, MULSS mindfulness meditation, LSS netball and more. However, all that being said, there was a conspicuous omission from our health-related resources: a gym membership.
What happens if you work during netball Wednesdays? Or if you have an STS tutorial during lunchtime yoga and mindfulness meditations? I think we can all agree that the MLS schedule can be incredibly hectic at times; not everyone can accommodate the great activities that are currently organized.
As someone who attended university in the U.S., the absence of a gym membership was unthinkable. Similarly, Canadian universities readily provide their students with access to gym facilities. For all the talk about health and taking care of ourselves, Melb Uni sure isn’t doing us any favours.
As an international student, ineligible for programs like HECS and Centrelink, I’m scraping by on my (now exhausted) savings, various loans, and whatever work I can get. Frankly I find it a bit insulting that the university would ask for another $65 per month to jog on a treadmill or lift a few weights. Moreover, that’s $65 per month only if you can afford to shell out a lump sum payment of $259 for the semester. If monthly payments are all you can realistically budget for, it’ll cost you $79 per month for a total of $316 per semester.
Now, is that a completely unheard of price? Not at all, but that’s not really the point. If I’m paying north of $38,000 a year in tuition and textbooks, I think it’s fair to expect what most North Americans consider a basic student service.
It might be said that Australian universities don’t do things that way, but as a pillar of the academic community, the University of Melbourne should feel comfortable paving the way for a new and improved strategy for student health. Moreover, it should take pride in putting student health at the forefront wherever possible. The likely outcome is that only a small percentage of students would take advantage of the opportunity, but give students the option.
If you’re concerned with student health then do something proactive to help. Give students a convenient, affordable option for physical activity. Promote it. Make it easy. A healthier student body will only yield better results for the University, both in academic performance and its reputation as an institution.
Jared Mintz is a first-year JD student
The rest of this Issue: