Volume 96, Issue 86
Thursday, March 13, 2003

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USC Dental Plan contested

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Debate and uncertainty were the focus of last night's University Students' Council meeting, as the legitimacy of the recently passed student dental was debated amidst a flurry of political bickering.

The commotion erupted as two posted motions were presented – the first motion called for the USC bylaw that bound the USC to the results of the Feb. 19 referendum in favour of the dental plan to be overturned. The motion failed, with four voting for the motion, 46 against and two abstaining.

"We are for the students, but the USC exists is relative to our bylaws. We have to look at our bylaws as criminal law – if we suspend our laws, then why do we have them," stated King's College councillor Mike Heilandt.

"The bylaws of the USC are the very root of the organization; they flow directly from the letters patented of the USC and are designed to bind the actions of the corporation," asserted USC president Chris Sinal, noting bylaws are what make the USC accountable to the student population.

"You can't run a corporation and suspend bylaws when you don't like them," said Anatoly Dvorkin, legal affairs officer for the USC.

The second posted motion presented at the USC meeting concerned the validity of the results of the dental plan referendum held during last month's presidential elections.

The issues that prompted the presentation of the motion included the rationale that the 20 per cent student quorum on referendums was not met, the technical problems experienced by the Web site during voting and the lack of a policy expressing the needed voting majority and the initial phrasing of the referendum question, which was changed during the vote.

"We have doubts about majority, we have doubts about the quorum and we have doubts about the campaign – all we have are doubts," said law councillor Yuri Chumak.

"There's an accountability of the [USC] Elections Committee – we must make sure the whole process isn't co-opted by [them]," said science councillor Angela Laughton.

"[The Elections Committee has] done nothing to call their integrity into question," Heilandt contended.

"We would seek further legal advice because we want to make sure we are doing the right thing," Dvorkin said, adding that, whether the motion was passed or not, legal advice would still be sought to make certain that the motion did not break any USC bylaws. If any bylaws were in fact broken, then the USC Board of Directors has the authority to override the decision of the council, he added.

The debate over the second bill continued late into the evening, exceeding The Gazette's publication time. Extended coverage will be found in this Friday's edition.


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