SGA approves fee increase for student insurance

THE NEWMAN STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION passed the approval of the new insurance plan off to the students through an online survey.

A student accident insurance plan was rolled out at the start of the fall semester, covering undergraduate students for physical accidents like car crashes or bodily injuries that happen on or off campus.

On Tuesday, the Student Government Association made progress on a bill previously approved that would restructure how the insurance is paid for, raising student fees for the 2018 fall semester at least $50.

The current insurance was approved last year, and this year’s senate passed a resolution in September to address how the insurance would be structured for the coming year, SGA President Vivian Hoang said.

When the insurance was approved last year, the funding for the insurance was set to come from the athletic department budget, Hoang said.

SGA opened a discussion about how the insurance was funded, considering changing it from only an athletic department fee to an entire student body fee since the insurance covered athletes and non-athletes.

Hoang said they decided to send an online survey to the student body to see if it would approve a student fees increase of $50 so that the insurance would be paid for by all undergraduate students rather than just the athletic department.

“Senate thought this was a bigger thing than all of us, so they wanted to bring it to the students. We wanted to get an online vote out as soon as we could,” Hoang said.

The original bill stating SGA would approve a payment restructure of the insurance if the student body voted to approve it was passed Sept. 18. The online survey requesting students vote regarding the insurance restructure was sent out on Nov. 21.

Hoang said SGA waited that long to send out a survey because they wanted to provide students with more information on the bill before they had to vote on it.

“We held a town hall meeting, hoping that students would come and ask questions about tuition, the increases and we even put something in about the insurance,” she said. “With the few students that we had show up, it was brought up, like ‘Why were the athletes paying all of it and not any of the other students? And why do all the students get that benefit when all the athletes are paying for it?’”

The survey sent out regarding the bill had a paragraph describing what the $50 restructuring charge would provide students – a $10,000 coverage policy for non-athletic accidents and a $5,000 coverage policy for athletic injuries occurring during Newman sponsored events.

Hoang said that of the 276 responses the survey received, 62 percent voted in favor of the fee increase. However, the response rate for the survey was just under 35 percent.

Though the response rate seems low, Hoang said this is about the average amount of responses SGA receives for its student body polls.

“I hope that the student body isn’t apathetic about it, since this does affect their future,” she said.

Junior senator Kyle Mazza said he’d heard opinions from students who were both in support of and against the fee increase for insurance. Mazza said he wants to remind students who may be upset with the additional fee to participate in SGA and express their thoughts.

“Some people wanted it, others didn’t,” he said. “It just goes to show how important it is to stay up-to-date with what’s going on on campus and to voice your opinion and vote.”

This story first appeared in the November 30, 2017 issue of The Vantage.