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#ThingsSUSDoes: Another regular board meeting discusses an upcoming health and dental referendum, a BCSA funding request, and frustration with communication

The Student Union Society (SUS) held its general board meeting on February 21 in Abbotsford. They looked to move toward referendum for the decreasing coverage of the SUS health and dental plan and heard a funding request from the biology and chemistry students association (BCSA) for the upcoming third annual Big Bang event.

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By Katherine Gibson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 26, 2014

The Student Union Society (SUS) held its general board meeting on February 21 in Abbotsford. They looked to move toward referendum for the decreasing coverage of the SUS health and dental plan and heard a funding request from the biology and chemistry students association (BCSA) for the upcoming third annual Big Bang event.

Health and dental referendum going forward

The new plan would see additions, such as mental health treatment, as well as the re-addition of previous features, like coverage for glasses. With these additions, the program’s fee will also increase from $159.92 per semester to $215.59 — an increase of nearly $56.

President Shane Potter noted students will still be able to opt out of the program if they have outside coverage, but stressed that for students taking advantage of this program, this new system will serve their health and medical needs more effectively.

“Right now we have the lowest health and dental fee in B.C., if not Canada,” Potter said, “which sounds like great news, but the problem with that is that a lot of the benefits within the program don’t really work for students.”

As a part of the referendum, SUS will also be asking students whether or not they believe the health and dental fee should be tied to an inflation policy.

“Every year, especially with the health and dental plan, the cost of the programs goes up. So every year we’re forced to cut one or two things,” Potter continues. “We won’t be using the inflation policy to increase those services, but to hold them at a maintained level.”

Representative-at-large Jay Mitchell encouraged the board to investigate other competitive markets for health and dental programs, rather than just accept the amount proposed by SUS’ current health and medical provider.

Potter assured Mitchell, and the rest of the board, that there had already been research done into varying models.

“We are looking at competitive rates,” Potter said. “Rest assured that we are going to get with this referendum what other universities are paying for their health and dental.”

After the group discussion, the board voted on this motion and it passed unanimously.

BCSA requests funds for Big Bang event and questions SUS communication

BCSA president Jennifer Martel explained that the event scheduled for April 4 was a positive addition to student life, as it allows science students from various departments to build a sense of unity within a relaxed environment.

Despite the science-centric focus, BCSA VP general Gagan Mahil assured the board that this event is still inclusive and open to all students wishing to attend.

“Although it is catered [with] science trivia and prizes in mind … the best way of defining it as an event is to call it a ‘geeky event,’ Mahil said. “There’s going to be a ton of Big Bang [Theory] references. … There are live bands, food, [and] all these things that students who want to have a good time would go to.”

Having live music accounts for a large portion of the event’s costs — the coordinators spend an approximated $1000 per band. Still, Mahil believes the local focus of the bands chosen, some coming from UFV, will also promote community talent.

During the course of the discussion, Potter suggested BCSA partner with CIVL to cut the insurance costs associated with band booking — an option Martel agreed to look into.

The board had not created an actual finance motion for the event prior to the meeting, a fact that Martel openly challenged. Both rep-at-large Thomas Davies and VP finance Ryan Petersen explained that although the finance committee had received a copy of the event’s proposed budget, an official funding request form was never received from BCSA — impeding the finance committee’s ability to create a motion to bring to the board for approval.

During the open question period, Martel expressed frustration with SUS’s lack of communication between the board and student associations on campus.

“When student associations don’t send a finance request in properly, could SUS work harder to contact us?” Martel questioned. “There still seems to be a lack of communication between student associations and SUS.”

Due to the time-sensitive nature of the request, the board ultimately decided to review the Big Bang financing, pending BCSA submitting a formal request, during its next meeting on Wednesday, February 26.

Editor’s Note: The board meeting was rescheduled for Friday, February 28.

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