Student Senate Addresses Student Housing and Health
Executive Director for Residential Housing Christine Sheets first spoke to Senate on the Housing Master Plan, which has been mostly finalized.
In the plan, Sheets stressed that they maintained their commitment to the two-year parietal rule in order to support the first-year and sophomore experience and focus on a residential living/learning environment.
The new plan calls for a move from the current split of 90 percent traditional housing and 10 percent suite housing to a more competitive split of 65 percent traditional and 35 percent suite over the course of ten years.
In order to maintain the current status of 8,000 residential beds, the demolition of several residence halls in the back of South Green and the demolition of the Wolfe Street Apartment Complex will occur in conjunction to the construction of other residence halls.
In addition, a more comprehensive tie between South Green and East Green will be formed, though Sheets doesn’t know the details yet.
As the hiring of an architectural engineering firm and a project manager has yet to occur, “It’s a very rough plan of how [the construction] will be,” said Sheets.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $281 million with a $91 million equity and $190 million in debt financing. Sheets said that the Housing Master Plan board waited until now to start the plan due to the low interest rates they will be receiving. “Just over 3 percent, that’s very good,” she said.
However, the construction scheduled to begin this summer with the demolition of the Wolfe Street Apartment Complex may cause inconveniences for students with delays in utilities. “This is one of the largest construction projects I’ve seen … at this university in terms of dollars and volume,” Sheets said.
But despite this, Sheets believes these changes to be instrumental in making Ohio University a competitive university. “This is going to be very transformational for Ohio University … It’s going to make a splash.”
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi was next discussing a change in the student insurance plan for next year.
After consulting many insurance providers, the provider of the current student insurance plan won out with a different plan in low cost with the greatest benefits for students.
This new plan, which will costs students $12 more than their current insurance each year, has some huge perks.
While the previous plan’s maximum was $50,000, the new plan will have a limit of $2.5 million. The current prescription benefits of $1,000 annually will also be increased to $2.5 million, as will the current psychotherapy limit of $5,000. And while the current plan has no coverage for preventative care, the new plan will cover 100 percent of it after the co-pay has been made.
However, Lombardi came to Senate in order to discuss possible extra benefits to add to the plan, which while increasing the price, could also offer valuable services to students. These benefits must be voted on, because either all students on the plan will receive them or none will.
One of these extra services would include travel immunizations, which would be covered for an extra $10 annually, offsetting the costs of shots often in the hundreds of dollars.
Another service possibly covered under the new plan would include sexual reassignment surgery and therapy including hormones for up to $25,000 a year. This would cost plan owners $10 a year.
Amelia Shaw, LGBT commissioner, argued strongly for the inclusion of this benefit in the plan. “A lot of [transgender people] end up dropping out of school because they have to choose between it and school … All of our students need to feel like they’re welcome and that they can be themselves.”
Another heavily supported possible benefit is the removal of the exclusion in the current health care plan stating that coverage will not occur for an injury “caused by or contributed to” alcohol or illegal drugs for $13 a year. The current plan would allow for coverage regardless of this.
City and County Affairs Commissioner Mary Kate Gallager was fully in favor of the addition of this benefit. “How much of a responsibility is it for students to have to pay for a mistake they made?”
Finally, the hiring of a student advocate to answer student insurance questions and assist in the filing of claims was added as a potential benefit for an extra $20 a year.
Lombardi expects the decisions regarding the optional benefits to be decided by next week.
But regardless of the benefits to be added, Lombardi is excited for the plan.
“I’m really pleased with this in general,” said Lombardi. “We’ve got good news ahead.”Share