Find additional funding for EST

The Emergency Support Team, better known as EST, is one of the main lines of defense on Wash. U.’s campus against our occasional mishaps. Every evening, EST volunteers give up time in which they could be studying, sleeping or simply relaxing in order to protect the student body from serious bodily harm. If you sprain an ankle, you can call EST. If you or a friend needs any sort of help, you can call EST, no questions asked.

This leads us to question why Student Health Services (SHS) cut EST funding by $8,000. Nothing about this service renders it ineffective enough to warrant a budget cut. EST, which is jointly funded by SHS and Student Union, receives block funding from SU and therefore cannot request more money from SU until next year. Even then, there is no guarantee that the student body will approve the new funds.

We recognize that SHS, like all other University departments, faces budget difficulties in light of the economic recession. Painful decisions must be made without sacrificing essential services such as mental health counseling and treatment for eating disorders. It seems that the hands of SHS are at least partially tied. But given that SHS does not extend care past business hours, we believe that administrators should not have made cuts to EST, the only source of emergency and late-night care for students other than calling 911.

SHS administrators have not returned several phone calls from Student Life regarding this matter last week.

As a result of this cut, each student will have to pay up-front costs of approximately $1,000 for the certification course required to become a member of EST, with some of the money being refunded upon completing a certain number of hours on-call. According to EST director Stephanie Higgins, this cut will not affect the services that EST provides.

What it could do, though, is seriously limit interested students’ ability to join EST. Few college students have an extra $1,000 lying around, and even fewer can actually spend a few months waiting for reimbursement.

Especially in light of recent initiatives that aim to promote socioeconomic diversity, we feel that this fee is unfortunate. We encourage Student Financial Services to look into assigning grants to students interested in working for EST, and we strongly recommend that the Diversity Affairs Council and Washington University For Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity (WU/FUSED) investigate how this fee will affect the students who wish to join EST.

We find it particularly unfortunate that, at a school with stellar residential capacities, high tuition and well-ranked food, more money can’t be found for EST –a service that is valuable for both the students it employs and the students it serves. This is a classic problem of budget allocation that the University often must deal with, solely on the basis of its size: Because money is funneled into many administrative departments, bureaucratic complication often stands in the way of efficient allocation.

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