The UT Outpost is a great resource for students who face financial hurdles or simply don’t have time to shop for necessities. It offers a variety of Resources such as food and professional clothing.
However, UT Outpost does not offer over-the-counter medications, and with the recent price increase, students are put in a difficult position to decide whether they need medicine or money. To make basic health necessities more accessible, UT Outpost should offer free over-the-counter medications.
Sophomore computer science student Tiffany Kao uses the UT Outpost often and describes her experiences and hopes for this student resource.
“I don’t come from a very wealthy family. So if I can save money, then of course I will save money,” Kao said. “Advil is actually very expensive. … In case you only need a few, I think the outpost would be good.
Since the Outpost does not include these resources, it may have a disproportionate and negative impact on students on campus who may not have easy access to over-the-counter medications. This contributes to issues of health inequity within the UT student body.
UT Outpost Coordinator Valeria Martin provided insight into the barriers that prevent UT Outpost staff from providing over-the-counter medications at their facility.
“Currently our team here is trained to be able to process donations related to food and clothing,” Martin said. “However, drugs can bring many different challenges in this regard. … We don’t have this training to be able to process drug-related donations.
As Martin points out, expanding the resources of UT Outposts to include providing and receiving donations for over-the-counter medications would be a new endeavor and would present some challenges. However, this practice is not totally new. Many donation campaign centers across the state are accepting donations of over-the-counter medications, which means it would be possible for UT to train its staff to do the same.
Lack of education regarding health care resources and financial barriers can often prevent students from prioritizing their physical health. UT must facilitate these “health first” decisions for students. Busy daily schedules, financial hurdles, and even factors such as distance from a pharmacy can continually make it very difficult to maintain physical well-being. Our student population has a pressing need for medication that is accessible on a daily basis.
The UT Outpost, with an established presence as an on-campus donation center, would be a great way to alleviate this problem. By including over-the-counter medications in their resources, UT can directly help students and solve our health inequity crisis.
Zhang is a sophomore sociology student from Katy, Texas.