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IU students march through campus to demand campus health care reform



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Students march through campus March 7 carrying a sign stating, "Health access for all." Students rallied outside IU President Michael McRobbie's office to bring attention to improving health care at IU. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

As a group of about 20 IU students marched and chanted their way through campus Thursday, one student held his sign above the others.

“Don’t make us choose between textbooks and health care,” it read.

This sign was one of many at the Prove That IU Cares march and rally, a protest to demand better, more affordable health services on IU’s campus.

The rally was part of a larger campaign with five core desires for the university to fulfill: accept all health care including Medicaid and Healthy Indiana Plan policies, create an addiction center on campus, expand Counseling and Psychological Services, offer more care for students with chronic illnesses and create a three-year plan to provide free health services to all students.

Campus Action for Democracy and the Bloomington chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America partnered to organize the campaign and march when they realized they were working toward the same goal.

A few of the students will meet with Pete Grogg, executive director of the IU Health Center, Friday to discuss the proposal further. But the march and rally was a direct, public way to get the attention of the administration, said graduate student Amanda Waterhouse, co-chair of Campus Action for Democracy.

The students walked into the Office of the President in Bryan Hall to deliver their proposal, chanting, “Hey McRobbie, what do you say? How many students turned away?”

IU spokesman Chuck Carney said the university appreciates the students bringing up their concerns and looks forward to discussing those concerns.

“Health care is an important discussion on all fronts in this country,” he said. “And students have to be as concerned about it as anyone. So we want to have a dialogue with them, discuss what their ideas are and see what we can do to meet some of the needs that they bring up.”

After delivering their proposal and nearly 300 signed petitions to the Office of the President’s staff, the group continued to march through campus chanting.

“Two, four, six, eight. Student health cannot wait.”

When the group arrived at the Woodburn clock tower, freshman Zoe Layton repeated the demands to students passing by. Some students stopped to listen.

“We believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege, on our campus,” she said.

Layton and two other IU students shared their experiences accessing health care on campus.

She spoke next about her experience on the first day of class in the fall. Her chronic illness caused so much pain she could barely move, she said. But when she went to the health center, she was turned away because the pain was related to her chronic illness and couldn’t be treated there.

Junior Jessy Tang, co-chair of Young Democratic Socialists of America, spoke about being a student with no health care insurance. Two years ago, Tang suffered from a hemiplegic migraine, during which half of their body could not move, they said.

“I missed three exams in one day,” Tang said. “And I wasn’t able to make up any of them because I wasn’t able to get a permission slip from a doctor telling me that I am paralyzed.”

One of the demands included in the policy proposal is to increase free CAPS visits at the health center from two to 15 times per student per semester.

Graduate student Kathryn Lehman talked about her experiences with mental health services on campus. The first time you go, the initial appointment is an intake session, and the second appointment is a more in-depth evaluation with a counselor. After the second appointment, you have to pay a fee for each following session that semester.

“I went through some moments of crisis, and I couldn’t afford to see a therapist,” she said.

One student pointed out that Purdue University offers its students up to 12 free CAPS sessions per calendar year.

After the rally, passersby approached the organizers to share some of their own stories. But before they did, Waterhouse led one more chant to emphasize the group's message.

“IU Cares?"

“Prove it."

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