Needs should be questioned

When service organizations at NIU run out of funds or start to lose money, the common solution is to raise student fees.

The University Health Service has come up with something different. The health center provides 24-hour emergency medical service but because of their financial situation, officials are questioning the need for that service.

A proposal to cut the third shift, which runs from midnight to 8 a.m., might be passed. Health center officials cite a lack of use as the reason for canceling the shift.

If passed, the proposal would save about $44,000 over the 1989-90 academic year. The question for officials is whether students need the service and whether its continuation is worth $44,000.

Students who need emergency medical service during those hours would have to rely on hospitals and pay for the costs with the help of student insurance or their own policy.

The health center should be commended for looking at ways to reduce costs rather than constantly adding on. At the same time, however, the center wants to add two other services, cholesterol screening rapid strep testing. While relatively inexpensive, these proposals and any other to add service should come under the same scrutiny as the possible elimination of the third shift.

More proposals for more student services will come before NIU President John LaTourette’s Fee Study Committee in coming months. The committee should ask those requesting fees whether many students would use the service and whether the service justifies the cost.

As student services become more and more expensive, the questions have to get tougher and tougher.