Volume 93, Issue 42

Friday, November 12, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Time to do the right thing

Editorial cartoon

Time to do the right thing

It's not the money, it's the principle.

Councillors raised a motion at Wednesday's University Students' Council meeting to reimburse the $3.60 administrative fee which was taken off USC health plan opt-out cheques. The motion came after a lot of heat was directed towards the council for the deduction. Derrick Taub, VP-finance for the USC, said the policy was put in place in March by last year's council. He said they were simply following through on the plan.

Following through or not, the fact remains it is an issue which concerns the students of 1999/2000 and it should have been addressed by this year's council. But it wasn't. Blame is not the issue here. The issue is finding a remedy to the situation which will quickly restore the students' faith in the USC's democratic process.

When the matter is looked at in this light, only one answer is the right one. Give the students their money back. Recognize that in this case, there was a problem with the system. Students should have been consulted about a major issue which directly concerns them. They were not. Rectify the situation by listening to their present concerns and refunding their money. Doing so is not an admission of guilt, it's simply an admission of understanding.

An argument could be raised that refunding the money is actually a step backwards in this whole process. The $3.60 was originally deducted for administrative costs – such as maintaining a database for the information and issuing cheques. If students are reimbursed now, those administrative costs will be suffered again, to undo what has already been done. Is it smart to incur an increased cost for the sake of refunding $3.60 to the students who opted out?

Yes. As a matter of fact, it's brilliant. If the councillors voice a collective concern over this issue and the USC were to listen, understand the argument and refund the students' money, it would be a solid statement to students that the council is there to support their beliefs and needs. Think of the wonderful precedent this could set. Of course, the beauty of this scenario would be dependent on paying the incurred cost from a well not funded by student dollars.

The councillors who raised the motion at Wednesday's meeting should be commended for aptly representing their constituents. They are trying to make right something that has seriously gone wrong in the eyes of the Western community.

In the future, the proper time and process should be taken when dealing with such a delicate issue as other people's money. Student representatives must be informed of the major decisions which affect their constituents. It will save a lot of embarrassment, time and money.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999