Volume 96, Issue 99
Friday, April 4, 2003

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Western solicited to overturn USC Dental Plan

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Western's Campus and Community Affairs Committee debated the merits of the University Students' Council dental plan referendum last night, bringing into question whether the university should interfere in the implementation of USC fees.

USC engineering councillor Jennifer Yach made a presentation to the committee, arguing the dental plan should not be implemented, following the annual presentation of USC fee increases by VP-finance Mike Rudd.

"It is critical the Board of Governors maintain the authority to prevent students from being disadvantaged," Yach said, adding, while USC autonomy is important, BOG should not be bound by standards the USC sets for itself.

Yach argued the dental plan referendum, held last month, was subject to several technical glitches, and was poorly advertised. She also alleged bias in the USC-managed information campaign, and pointed out the USC plan would cost $24 more than any other similar student dental coverage received in Ontario.

USC general manager Mark Sellars said the organization administering the plan, Campus Trust, has no vested interest and is not-for-profit.

"While I do agree Miss Yach made some valid points about the issues of the referendum, I don't agree with [her arguments about] due diligence," Sellars said, adding the USC obtained nine different quotes for the dental plan.

Anatoly Dvorkin, USC legal affairs officer, said the USC Elections Committee investigated the criticisms of the voting process. "[The] defects were not sufficient to overturn results," he told the committee. "The key issue to note is that these problems existed for the entire election."

The students who voted in favour of the plan should not be overlooked, Dvorkin added.

Committee members asked several questions that expressed their concern over the process. Western VP-academic Greg Moran asked USC President Chris Sinal if, given everything considered, implementing the plan was the right thing to do.

Sinal said he would not feel comfortable overturning a referendum that had been deemed legal after the USC sought opinion from an external law firm.

Yach said she would continue to campaign against the dental plan should the committee decide not to recommend that BOG block the implementation of new student fees adding the courts might be another forum to stop the plan.

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2002 THE GAZETTE