By Jeff Lagerquist
The Ryerson Students’ Union will appear in small claims court in early 2011 to determine if third-year engineering student and former RSU presidential candidate Mark Single is entitled to the $290 in his tuition fees allocated to the RSU Members’ Health and Dental Plan.
“We plan to respond based on the policy that has been established by our board of directors,” said RSU president Toby Whitfield.
The student policy offered by Green Shield through the RSU includes 80 per cent of prescription drug costs, $500 for massage therapy, $300 for chiropractic care, and $240 in physiotherapy, as well as basic dental and travel coverage to a maximum of $750 per year.
“I should have the freedom to choose how I take care of my personal health,” said Single, whose opt-out request was declined.
Students with coverage through a family member or spouse have the opportunity to opt out of the plan and recover the fee if they have “similar benefits,” according to the link on the RSU website. Single submitted an out of province health insurance policy and expressed his intention to personally pay for additional expenses. However, he was unable to prove that he is sufficiently covered and his request was declined.
Single isn’t convinced that he needs coverage for items like custom foot orthotics.
“OHIP covers all the basics, anything beyond that should be up to the students, not shoved down their throats by the student’s union,” he said.
Armed with a video camera, Single served RSU President Toby Whitfield with court documents on Dec. 10. Whitfield allegedly called security services, claiming he was being harassed by Single.
“Some of our staff didn’t feel comfortable being videotaped. There was a back and fourth about that,” said Whitfield.
Last March, Single introduced a bylaw amendment motion at the RSU Annual General Meeting that would allow students to opt out of the RSU entirely, a move he now admits would be “virtually impossible.”
The $110 annual fee that students pay for RSU and Canadian Federation of Students membership supports campus groups like CKLN, the Eyeopener, and the Used Book Store. Despite the set back, he sees the health plan issue as a practical first step. Single’s case against the RSU is not a class action and is not intended to set any kind of official precedent.
“I’m not convinced I will win, but I do want to open the eyes of students. What the RSU does is not always in their best interest.”
Photo: Marta Iwanek