Volume 91, Issue 23

Wednesday, October 8, 1997

glass houses


Need for part-time health plan

Amy Romeo
Part-time student

I am a part-time student at Brescia College and I am outraged by the relatively recent decision to exclude all part-time students from the university's health plan. Furthermore, I am extremely disappointed with the way in which the Board of Governors reached such an irrational decision.

According to the Board of Governors minutes of the meeting on May 22, 1997, "The administration could not support the proposed health plan, principally because of the impact this compulsory (albeit opt-out) fee would have on the students interested in attending the university on a part-time basis." As a student, this statement indicates to me that the Board is more interested in financial gain and less concerned about my health care.

My initial reaction was to blame the USC for failing to advocate on my behalf in this matter. However, further examination of the Board's minutes showed the USC did attempt to include part-time students in the health plan. It would seem that their failure lies in a statistical problem.

It is my understanding that the USC conducted a referendum (that I participated in) which included all part-time students, without regard to campus location. Under these conditions, the referendum results failed to meet the 20 per cent return rate required. However, the results are not accurate simply because the population polled does not accurately represent the potential health plan participants.

I believe this was a mere oversight on the part of the USC. I also believe the USC made an adequate attempt to overcome this sampling error by isolating the data pertaining to part-time students living within a 40 km radius of London.

Chris Keith's arguments that "only those part-time students who attend classes on the main London campus or at the affiliated colleges would be eligible to participate in the health plan, since they are the only students who pay USC fees" justifies an alteration in the population eligible to participate in the referendum. If we accept this common-sense approach, the tailored referendum results adequately meet the 20 per cent participation requirement as outlined by the USC by-laws.

I thoroughly support Mr. Keith's interpretation of the data and I fail to understand how the Board could dismiss the plain facts based on a sampling error. The students living outside the 40 km radius of London are not eligible to participate in the health plan, so how can their votes be valid or significant?

I understand the Board wants to keep fees low to attract part-time students to the university, but at who's expense? Health coverage is extremely important and should not be sacrificed in the name of financial attractiveness. If the extra fees are such a problem, then why not offer the health plan as an "opt-in" deal as it was last year?

I would like the Board to recognize that their decision has left me in a distressing situation. I will not be able to pay for medication if I become ill. I will also be unable to purchase medical supplies to monitor my hypoglycemia. Consequently, I will be at greater risk of health complications that my affect my academic performance.

It is my sincerest hope the Board will review its decision and realize the impact it has had on students such as myself. After all, good health is key to a successful education.

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997