The 2017-2018 academic term for SGA executives was considered to be a “state of turmoil” according to Laurentian students.
Second year bio student, Kaitlin Green, said that the previous year was like no other.
“First we were told that the association whose supposed to have our best interest at heart is in the hole over a hundred grand, then we find out that in order to fix it they made some severely critical changes to our health plan…it just wasn’t right”.
With a debt repayment of over $150 000, emergency changes made to the Laurentian health and dental plan, and the impeachment of the Vice President of Student Life, students are concerned over the current state of the SGA.
“It’s hard to have high hopes for next year’s execs to come in and fix up this mess, but it’s all I can really do at this point” said Matthew Burns, a third year Communication Studies student.
Tommi-Lee Gauthier, President elect, said that “the SGA really want[s] to implement change that students want [for next year]”.
“We want to give the association back to the students” Gauthier said. “The SGA should stand for what the students want [and] if they have ideas they want to implement, we want to bring that to the forefront and make that happen”.
Gauthier explained that despite wanting to invoke change that will benefit students, “not much [will be] changing in regards to the health plan.”
“The health plan is being dealt with and we were involved with that decision. Next year we plan on involving the students. [This year] the health plan is staying the same [including the] changes that were made [because they] worked”.
The SGA made changes to student health and dental plan coverage on December 1, 2017 in an effort to end the excessive debt that they were incurring.
Health practitioner claims such as accupuncture, physiotherapy, and massage therapy are no longer covered in full up to $500 per year, but instead will be covered at $50 per visit, up to $500 per year. In addition, diagnostic and preventative dental care which was once covered in full up to $1000 per year will now only be covered at 75% per visit.
“The circumstances surrounding it were unfortunate, [but] it was what needed to be done” Gauthier said.
According to Gauthier, the SGA is “well on their way to making amends” and the hope is that students will not suffer despite the fact that the association doesn’t have as much money as it did in years previous to put towards events.
“We plan on working with the community and trying to get partners and sponsors for events” Gauthier explained. “We don’t have much [money] to work with but we can give the students the same amount that they were getting before if not more”.
“Repaying the debt obviously takes a toll on what we can do but were looking at every opportunity to make sure that students have everything they need and want throughout the year”.
Repayment plans have already been put in place by former President, Roch Goulet, and Director of Finance, Josh Bailey, according to Kathryn Kettle, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy elect.
“They’ve done a lot of hard work and I think it’s something that their year needs more credit for” Kettle said.
Whitney Simpson, Vice President of Student Life elect, said that “the budget that was made for [next] year is set to start repaying this debt”.
“I think what we want to do is save money wherever we can, without hindering what we can give to the students” Simpson said. [We want] to save as much as we can wherever we can to help put us back in the black”.
Although the SGA has consecutively and successfully impeached the last two VPs of Student Life, Simpson says she intends to carry out a successful term.
“For me, it’s ensuring that I’m meeting the needs that students have and giving the students what they want” Simpson said. “I [plan to] do my job and comply with the organization and the other executives to make sure that were all meeting the same goals.”
Simpson is currently in the beginning stages of planning Laurentian’s first homecoming, one of many events that she plans to develop over the course of the summer.
While Laurentian students may still hold concerns after the events of the 2017-2018 SGA term unfolded, the new executive-elects have promised that the student voice will be heard and well looked after.
“Our door is always open” Gauthier said. “Students can come and talk to any [one] of us. We are here for them, we want to hear their ideas, we want to make it happen, we want to make the SGA something for the students again”.