Ohio University Graduate Student Senate passed five resolutions at its Tuesday night meeting, including one asking OU to subsidize 89 percent of graduate employees’ health insurance.

OU offers a 4 percent subsidy to graduate students with appointments, while its peer institutions subsidize an average of 89 percent, according to a previous Post report. Members discussed how the university would pay to match those subsidies, which add up to $1,758.64 annually per student. 

“I think there is recognition that we can do a lot better and the data speak for themselves.” Graduate College Dean Joseph Shields said. “And this is receiving discussion amongst university leaders and deans … the challenge is where do we find the money?”

Maria Funcheon, representative for the sociology department, said the number was not only decided by averaging the amount of peer institutions. She also said Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones “likes OU to be in the top three universities in Ohio on a number of issues,” according to the resolution.

Laura Mason, representative for the Environmental and Plant Biology Department, said some of OU’s peer institutions subsidize 100 percent of graduate students’ health insurance and students should not have to worry about out-of-pocket expense.

“We don’t make a ton of money,” Mason said. “We do important work. We work really hard. We shouldn’t have to be worried that we’re gonna get sick and can’t afford to go to the hospital, or one of our dependents is going to get sick and can’t afford to go see a doctor.”

During “student speak out,” former-senator for the Patton College of Education Bahman Shahri expressed support for that resolution. He also criticized the GSS executive board, highlighting the seven elected members on GLocal’s ticket who resigned in the past year.

GSS President Maria Modayil said the people who resigned publicly announced why they resigned, and a lot has come down to commitment. 

“We are by no means suppressing anyone’s right to talk or create resolutions,” Modayil said. “If you have any more clarifications that we need about this, please come and see us.” 

GSS also passed three resolutions related to its budget, including funding the free popcorn given to the first 300 students who watched Black Panther for free Thursday. They also voted to fund the hotel expenses for visiting athletic administrator and life coach Brittany Wagner, who will present at the 14th annual History Graduate Association Conference. 

Additionally, members passed a resolution to suspend reading resolutions by default, and instead submitted a short summary of that resolution to save time during general body meetings.

Interim Director of International Student and Faculty Services Diane Cahill and representatives from the department gave a presentation about delegation to the National Association of International Educators Legislative Action Summit. The summit will include issues that NAFSA believes are important to international higher education.

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