Volume 96, Issue 57
Friday, January 10, 2003

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Election saddled with dental plan

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Following a unanimous decision by the University Students' Council, the question of adopting an opt-out dental plan will be put to the student body.

Under the first posted motion at the Dec. 4 USC meeting, a referendum will be held as to whether or not the USC should adopt a student dental plan similar to the health plan already available to students, said Chris Sinal, USC president.

The referendum will take place alongside USC presidential elections in February, Sinal said.

According to Michael Rudd, USC VP-finance, the cost of the plan would be $116 for one year's coverage, which will provide a maximum $500 annual coverage. The dental plan will be slightly more expensive than the $95 paid for student health coverage, but will operate in the same fashion if implemented, Rudd said.

Rudd noted the dental plan presented is neither the most or least expensive of those available, but the opportunity for upgrading is always open if the plan takes effect.

"I'm just glad that we're able to provide students with an option," Rudd said, noting the USC is neither for or against the plan, but only wants to give students the opportunity to vote on this question.

According to Sinal, the last election referendum was held two years ago over the increase in cost to the student bus pass, with voter turnout similar to that of the USC presidential elections.

"I think every student has the right to vote on it," said Brescia University College councillor Jessica McPherson, noting she hopes students become aware of all the issues surrounding the dental plan.

McPherson said she had some concerns about a small minority of students that may not be heard throughout the upcoming referendum. If there are students who can not afford the up-front cost of the dental plan, but have no proof of other coverage to opt out, it may seriously affect them, she explained.

According to arts councillor Matt Huether, the issue has to be brought to referendum because of the change it would require in student fees, but it is important to maintain student democracy.

"I think [a referendum] is a good idea," said fourth-year English student Kathryn Price, noting she thought students should have the opportunity to attain a dental plan. Price said she would not be going out of her way to vote on the issue come election time.

If the student body votes in favour of the dental plan, it would come into effect Sept. 1, 2003, Sinal said.

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