RyeSAC debates $94,000 question

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By Caroline Pelletier

RyeSAC is considering using the $94,000 surplus created by its recent health plan switch to give out student bursaries.

Earlier this month, RyeSAX switched health plans from Gallivan & Associates Intermediaries to the cheaper National Student Health Network.

“There’s definitely a lot of demand,” said RyeSAC president Darren Cooney.

Last September, even though more than 400 students applied, RyeSAC was only able to award a dozen need-based bursaries worth $500 each.

Cooney said that because of this he would like to increase the number of bursaries given out, as well as to add some that would cover the full cost of tuition.

Another option for the surplus, according to Cooney, is to give out refund checks to all students who paid into the health plan. Each student’s share would be just under $11.

If given the choice, however, Cooney said he would prefer to see a combination approach, in which cheques are handed out for a determined period of time to whoever drops in to pick them up. After that period, any money left over from cheques not picked up would go to bursaries.

But RyeSAC can’t give away the money just yet. First they need to see how many students opt-out of the new plan to determine what the final cost will be.

Then, they have to check with their lawyers: “What would limit what we could do with the money is our own bylaws and our own policies in regards to where money collected for the purpose of the health plan can be used within the organization,” said Cooney.

RyeSAC may have to put the money in the health and dental plan reserves to offset future changes and fluctuations in prices.

The new plan, with Green Shield Canada, cost RyeSAC $207.16 per student while the old one cost them $233.56. Each student was charged a levy of $218 on their fees statements — RyeSAC had originally planned to subsidize the difference.

Because the new deal costs less than what RyeSAC charged students for health and dental coverage, they will run a surplus that is estimated at being close to $94,000.

Students are divided on how the money should be spent.

“It would make sense to put the money into bursaries,” said first-year fashion design student Natasha Lenart. “I’m on OSAP myself and the more financial assistance the better.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” says first-year business management student Nick Rasskazovskiy.

He said he’d have a bit of fun with his share, but would rather see the money go into bursaries so students feel wanted at the university.

Fatema Aluhussain, a second-year early childhood education student, thinks the money should stay in the health and dental plan reserves for future years.

“We already have OSAP. Bursaries could be a good idea, but I would say the health and dental plan should have priority,” said Laihussain.

RyeSAC doesn’t know when a decision will be made. “It really depends on how long it takes us to find out from our lawyers, and how long it will take us to decide, as the four on the executive committee, on what to do with the money,” Cooney said.

“But the key is that we’re going to give back to students whatever way they can.”

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