January 9 , 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 55  

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Insurance woes abound

By Taha Suria and Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

Insurance woes have left the University Students’ Council and the clubs system reeling, but student unions across the province have encountered similar problems in renewing their policies.

The Lakehead University Student Union has been one of the hardest hit by the insurance companies’ new changes.

“It’s been a major problem; premiums have increased by 275 per cent,” explained Josh Tolmie, VP-finance for Lakehead’s student union. Tolmie added the campus establishment was responsible for a significant amount of the increase in the insurance premium due to the fact it bears high risk.

According to Tolmie, the USU’s insurance company has also expressed an interest in seeing Lakehead’s student union disassociate itself with the student-run clubs and also with a student crisis hotline run by the union. “It’s a robbery, we have no choice,” he remarked. “It’s a big scam.”

USC President Paul Yeoman said the student union at McGill University was forced to close down their main student building for a significant amount of time due to a problem with their insurance. “It’s quite a bad situation to be in because essentially all of the student union’s services and operations would not be able to be delivered.”

Students at Trent University can drink alcohol in campus bars, even though the student union has no alcohol insurance, said Dwayne Collins, president of the Trent Central Student Association. This is because the union runs their pubs jointly with the university’s administration, which takes care of alcohol-related liability, he explained.

The University of Ottawa’s Student Federation suffered a 30 per cent increase in their insurance premiums, said Rachid Naleo, VP-finance for the federation. But in the midst of rising costs, Naleo said his student union is not expecting any significant reduction in the number of activities that are going to be insured.

The University of Waterloo’s Federation of Students has also experienced a significant hike in their insurance premium, according to Chris Edey, the federation’s president. But unlike Western, they have not been required to stop sanctioning off-campus alcohol-related events, he added.

Nipissing University’s Student Union also experienced a small increase in their insurance premium, according to Wilson Abreu, president of the university’s student union. However, with regards to alcohol-related events, Abreu said they are trying to avoid the issue altogether. “As a student group we are trying to move away from events with alcohol anyway,” he explained.



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