Dave MacLean says RyeSAC executives threatened his job if he spoke about the insurance controversy. Maclean says he was upset to learn about the broken insurance contract by reading a campus newspaper.

Photo: Allan Woods.

Shut up or you’re out

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By Caroline Pelletier

A RyeSAC board member who disagreed with the decision to breach an insurance contract, said he was told not to talk to the press about it or he’d be fired.

“I don’t agree that you [the executive committee] went against the 26 of us [directors],” business faculty director Dave MacLean said at RyeSAC’s board of directors meeting last week. “Why break a contract and risk a lawsuit?”

MacLean refused to be interviewed by The Eyeopener because he said two RyeSAC vice-presidents told him he’s lose his position if he spoke to the press.

“They basically said, ‘Don’t do it or you’ll get impeached,’” said MacLean.

MacLean says they told him to speak to RyeSAC President Darren Cooney on the matter, but he decided against it.

“They scared me too much,” he explained.

Cooney denied MacLean would get impeached if he spoke to the press. “That’s not true,” he said.

Cooney said he told board members not to speak to reporters about the potential lawsuit RyeSAC is facing for breaching a contract with a health insurance broker. All interview requests were to be redirected to him.

“This is a tricky issue,” he said. “The insurance industry is so complex that we really wanted to direct the RyeSAC position through a single voice.”

Cooney called MacLean’s comment during the meeting inaccurate — board members had never voted to keep the old health and dental plan.

He said they don’t have a motion to do so, but they can approve or disapprove of the work done by vice president finance and services Sajjad Wasti.

Cooney said the ideal situation would be to have board members participating in decisions, but board meetings are monthly and decisions often have to be made on a weekly basis.

In general, Cooney said, it’s not a board member’s job to give interviews. He said it makes sense logistically for RyeSAC to have a “single, united voice.”

Not being able to talk made MacLean uneasy. “I felt that it was wrong. The complete story can’t be told when we are the representation of the student body and we can’t tell the students exactly what’s happening,” he said.

Board members found out about the potential lawsuit by reading the student press, nearly three weeks after the threat had been made.

“Our goal in informing [board directors] was to do it in a face-to-face manner at the next regular meeting, which would have been this past Wednesday,” said Cooney. “It just happened to end up in The Eyeopener beforehand.”

At last week’s meeting, the topic was brought up by engineering and applied sciences director Victor Volfson after the executive committee reviewed the details of RyeSAC’s new health and dental plan. RyeSAC had yet to mention the possibility of legal problems with the old broker.

On August 29, Cooney received a faxed statement from lawyers representing Gallivan and Associates, the broker who provided health and dental coverage to students until August 31.

“RyeSAC cannot terminate its contract with Gallivan and Associates on August 31 or anytime after until the matter is determined by the court,” it read.

“We didn’t interpret anything as a threat of a lawsuit. We don’t really believe that there will be a lawsuit. For us it doesn’t make business sense to sue a former client,” said Cooney.

Cooney says he hasn’t since heard anything from the company.

RyeSAC broke a three-year contract when they decided to switch their broker to the National Student Health Network, which offered cheaper premiums.

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