Volume 90, Issue 95

Tuesday, March 25, 1997



Health plan in the stars for part-time students

By Donna MacMullin
Gazette Staff

Western's University Students' Council may find the cure for what ails part-time students with a health plan which could be underway next year.

During reading week approximately 5,000 part-time students were sent a mail out which included information on the potential plan and asked students to respond to a referendum question to decide whether a health plan would be a viable service for students.

Jim Walden, the USC's general manager, said the issue of a health plan for part-time students is something which has been discussed for years and, although they have a tentative plan designated for proposal to council, they are still receiving responses from the mail out.

A quorum of 1,040 ballots is needed to make the referendum valid. "So far we have received 706 responses, with 485 for the plan, 218 againstz and three spoiled ballots," said James Deans, USC chief returning officer. "This makes for a 69 per cent approval rating." Deans said the plan will go ahead even if quorum is not reached because the approval rating is so high.

Deans added he thought this was a strong turnout, considering there were some anomalies with the mail out, as some students did not receive the information due to changed addresses.

"I absolutely think we did the right thing with this," Deans said. "And I am confident something can be worked out."

Paula Platero, president of the Part-time and Mature Students' Association, was largely responsible for pushing the issue of a health plan for part-time students. "I'm actually very glad we got the response we did," she said. "I certainly hope we can see a plan in place for next year."

Although the strong approval rating for the plan is an indicator for its success, there are some potential kinks which need to be ironed out before the proposal is presented to council and the Board of Governors.

"There might be some conflict with students at satellite campuses because they don't pay USC fees," Platero said.

Walden also said there will have to be some discussion by council to determine which students are actually eligible for the plan. "There is somewhat of an invisible line between the status of full-time and part-time students sometimes because it can change with the number of courses student's take," he said. "It will still have to be negotiated as to the definition of the various categories of students."

If passed, the plan is expected to be similar to the existing health plan for full-time undergraduates and students will be able to opt-out, Walden said. "But we still have to finalize the proposal and define the principles – there is a lot of work to do within the next four weeks."

The proposal is expected to be brought up at the next council meeting and will be brought before the Board of Governors in April, before a final decision is made.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997