Volume 96, Issue 87
Friday, March 14, 2003

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Darkness falls on the USC dental plan

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Controversy continues to swirl around the dental plan referendum held last month during the University Students' Council presidential elections, causing some to question its validity.

At Wednesday night's council meeting, two motions were debated. The first involved suspending the USC's bylaws, which, according to USC legal affairs officer Anatoly Dvorkin, was necessary for council to debate the validity of the results.

The second motion asked for the results of the referendum to be declared invalid and was subsequently defeated.

According to Dvorkin, because the first motion was defeated, council should not have even debated the second, adding USC bylaws state that only the Elections Committee can debate the validity of a referendum. It was the decision of the council's speaker Brad Nicpon to allow the motion to be debated, he said.

"The [Board of Directors] will have to seek further legal opinion," Dvorkin said, adding they are meeting with an outside lawyer on Monday.

If the legal opinion they receive determines that the referendum was invalid, the Board will overturn the referendum, he explained.

Science councillor Angela Laughton said she did not feel students were properly informed on the issue from the outset.

According to Laughton, the main problem with the referendum is that the required 20 per cent quorum of eligible student voters did not participate. There were also technical problems, she explained, noting parts of the referendum question were not available online until 11.5 hours into voting, and the computer crashed for a full hour.

"The fact that all of these problems happened in the first place is a huge [issue], and the fact that [it was] the Elections Committee that looked at this [is another]," she said, adding the Elections Committee must be accountable to council.

"The Elections Committee is investigating their own mistake," she said, noting they were the ones in charge of running the referendum properly in the first place.

The committee delivered a report to council Wednesday night that addressed the complaints, and found the referendum to be valid.

"I know the Elections Committee debated... to establish whether or not this was a valid referendum," said USC President Chris Sinal, adding he was not concerned with the committee's conclusion, as long as they believed their decision was the right one.

Sinal questioned whether the same people who are currently opposed to the referendum would still be concerned if the referendum failed.

According to Laughton, some students are still willing to take the matter to the Board of Governors, as it approves all student fees. "It's very tentative if it will go to judicial review."

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