The Maroon ran a story on Friday about graduate student's health insurance concerns. It was a fair look at the problems and issues targeting the perspectives of students and administrators.
However, the editorial on page 6 we feel completely misrepresents and misunderstands the issues and the purpose of SOSHI.
For example, they mention that we are just a bunch of screaming and angry graduate students that have never talked to administrators nor know the issues around health care costs, both of which are not the case. We have talked to SHIRC members as well as various division deans. Nobody's angry or screaming, but we are quite determined and will not stop until this issue is resolved. Working with the administration is one thing; spending a lot of time talking with them while more and more students suffer and are unable to complete their studies in a timely manner is another thing. We are willing to meet and talk with administrators if they are willing to discuss another model for health care provision.
They correctly note that there is a committee "to look at more efficient ways of financing student health insurance," which we realize. What they fail to mention is that the only reason the university ever moved to create SHIRC was through pressure by a similar independent student group SSHI (Save Student Health Insurance) in 1999.
SHIRC also has no authority whatsoever to do anything about how students are expected to pay for insurance. They are there to find the best health insurance plan they can find on the open market. The BSD and PSD divisions can buffer their students from this market while the other divisions can't seem to and the University administration does not care that there is an unequal two tier division among their PhD students. While those divisions might have more funds for students, we don't feel student health is an economic funding issue that should be treated differently department by department. It is an health care issue and every student deserves equitable and fair treatment by the University.
It is also implied that the majority of our criticism revolves around the fact that other Universities pay for health insurance. We point this out only to remind everyone that other competitive programs have taken steps to address this issue because they are academic communities which, unlike the U of C, actually value all types of learning equally.
Our main arguments stems from the very nature of this University. Here, we
have an institution which, on the one hand, claims is mission is to "Let
knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched," which would seem to imply that human life is enriched by all types of knowledges; and yet on the other hand pays for the health insurance costs of the Biological and Physical Sciences graduate students while ignoring or paying lip-service to the concerns of students in traditionally underfunded areas, such as Divinity, Philosophy, Classics, Anthropology, Sociology, Cinema Studies etc.
As a result, the financial pressures these students are facing are not only
making it more difficult for them to do good work but also is leading to the
erosion of our competitive position among Universities nationwide in these departments as top students often choose to go to Universities that offer them better financial aid packages.
We realize that money is not everything and are sympathetic to the situation the University is in. However, we do feel that the situation has reached a critical point for many graduate students and that if the University wants to fulfill its mission, it must take action on this issue now. To do otherwise would be imply that those students who study in those departments which do not have large budgets are not as valuable as students in departments which do.
Editorial opinions are exactly that, opinions and an integral part of any journalistic service. They become a disservice when they convey patently false information.