USG, GSS asks for explaination

Though the final decision on the University’s health insurance plan was made on March 3, controversy is still brewing about it in the Undergraduate Student Government.

Many senators at last night’s USG’s meeting were still talking about the way the decision to approve the health plan was made. Since the final decision was made in a meeting of the Board of Trustees in a meeting for only trustees, senators were concerned the decision was made on the sly.

Sen. Nikki Messmore said she considered the decision making process the issue at hand, as opposed to the end result of the decision.

“Some might want to talk about the health insurance itself, some might want to talk about the Board of Trustee’s decision,” she said. “I think the Board of Trustees is the main point here.”

At the meeting USG approved a letter, in correspondence with Graduate Student Senate, to be sent to President Sidney Ribeau and Vice President of Student Affairs Edward Whipple about the concern. The letter opened with, “Members of the Graduate Student Senate and Undergraduate Student Government wish to express our frustration and disappointment in regard to the way the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees went about requesting changes to the student health insurance policy provisions.”

The letter goes on to ask the Board to give students an explanation for why they came to the conclusion they did and why their decision was made in private. Mike Woodall attended the USG meeting to present a different side of student concerns.

“I’m upset that they [USG] are putting all of the blame on the Board of Trustees,” he said.

Woodall worked with different student organizations through the decision making process to keep abortion coverage out of the University plan. He argued the decision made by the Board was made in a fair way and the final decision was made by Whipple – and that Whipple should be given responsibility.

Despite the opinion of Woodall, USG voted in favor of sending a letter to Ribeau and Whipple which conveyed a stern disapproval of the Board.

USG approved another letter at last night’s meeting on the subject of the University’s choice to join an organization which would limit the retail of products from sweatshops.

After student interest in ending the retail of BGSU licensed products purchased from sweatshops was expressed to the University, the University did join the Fair Labor Association. The FLA is an organization which monitors factories that manufacture products such as clothing sold at the University Bookstore. But students and senators who advocate the ban of sweatshop labor don’t think joining the FLA is enough.

Chelsea Lambdin spoke in front of the USG body on the importance of joining an additional organization called the Worker’s Rights Consortium. The WRC is similar to the FLA, however it includes additional safeguards against sweatshop labor. She introduced a letter that thanked the University for joining the FLA but that said it was not enough.

This letter asked that the University not only join the additional organization WRC but also recommended a committee be formed to manage issues of sweatshop labor products on campus. The letter was approved by USG and will be sent to University administrators.

Another visitor at the USG meeting was Larry Weiss, Associate Vice President of the President’s Office. Weiss came specifically to speak about a proposed constitutional amendment called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights or TABOR.

He spoke at USG’s meeting about the consequences the amendment could have if it was to be approved in Ohio during this year’s election. Weiss stressed the amendment would have grave effects on higher education and education in Ohio as a whole. He asked USG to be informed on the legislation and to inform others on the dangers it could present since he believes that only the good side of the legislation is being presented to the public.

On the surface, according to Weiss, the amendment looks like a limit on taxes but he warns that “the devil is in the details” and that the repercussions of TABOR would cut funding for Ohio’s state universities dramatically.

Weiss said the University is making an effort to inform students and parents about what voting ‘yes’ on the TABOR issue could do to BGSU by sending out information to parents this summer and handing out more information at next year’s freshman orientation.

“Between now and November you are going to be hearing a lot about this,” he said.