Volume 97, Issue 1
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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Knocked out of the dental chair

Bye, bye dental plan.

On May 1, Western's Board of Governors refused implementation of the fees required to fund the University Students' Council's now renowned dental plan. BOG acted on a recommendation from the Campus & Community Affairs Committee to reject the fees.

The CCAC challenged the original vote because of "technical and substantive irregularities." These irregularities included the rewording of the question midway through the referendum and a small voter turnout.

The dental plan passed in a referendum on Wed., Feb. 19, but due to flaws in the process, it was challenged by current USC engineering councillor Jennifer Yach. Yach presented a motion to the CCAC on Thu., Apr. 3 arguing the dental plan should not be implemented because the vote 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.

BOG's decision to nix the dental plan means students arriving in September will not pay the $116 student fee increase, the largest student fee increase the USC had ever requested, including the bus pass and the health plan.

The dental plan referendum process was flawed and due to these flaws, the USC opened themselves up to protest.

The USC argued the missing part of the referendum question would have made more people vote against the dental plan, meaning the dental plan was successful regardless. If it wasn't for the other mistakes, the dental plan might have been an overwhelming success and approved by BOG, and the legacy of USC 2002-03 would have been in order.

Should BOG have stepped on the toes of the USC after the referendum was deemed legal by an external law firm that the USC had consulted?

BOG was warranted in looking at the process and deeming it invalid, but their explanation for blocking the plan – an issue of morality – is clearly flawed.

How can Western's administration argue they are blocking a USC-run initiative because of the apparent enormity of the $116 increase when they allow tuition fees to increase every single year?

If the dental plan was beneficial to Western's administration, would the result have been the same?

Administration has the power to approve fees, but their reasons for using this power seems contradictory.

We may not have heard the end of the never-ending talk surrounding the dental plan. The incoming USC has the opportunity to conduct a second referendum and according to President Paul Yeoman, they will discuss the possibility in the fall.

Let's hope this time it sails instead of sinks.



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