SA discusses bill to reduce STI testing costs

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September 25, 2009

1:55 AM

The Student Health Act, an initiative to subsidize sexually transmitted infection testing on campus, dominated debate at Tuesday’s meeting of the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly.

SA Vice President Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11 said that the $75 charge for STI testing was a disincentive for students to go to the Student Health Center.

“It only makes sense for the school to offer free STI testing,” Ruzic said.

Currently, chlamydia or gonorrhea test costs $18, a syphilis test $10 and a genital warts test $5. If passed, the Student Health Act would make all of these tests free.

“I’m really happy with this list of tests to cover because the Health Center called it the ‘most comprehensive list’ that we can reasonably afford,” Ruzic said.

The act would not cover HIV or HPV testing. Instead, Ruzic said that the health center offers alternatives.

“The university health center offers several free screening days for HIV,” Ruzic said.
Covering these tests would raise the cost of implementing the act by several thousand dollars, he added.

Based on the cost of around 950 STI tests administered at the health center last year, the act would cost the SA approximately $12,000.

Funding would come from the consolidated reserve, which is comprised of money from student activities fees.

“Our job is to pass that money back out to student groups,” Ruzic said. “Over the years, a large surplus has developed. It’s certainly large enough to cover this.”

Ruzic hopes that the SA’s funding STI testing, the SA will bring attention to an important issue.

“This is something students hear and think, ‘that is a great idea,’ and that’s what the SA should be doing,” he said.

He hopes that if the Student Health Act is passed, the College will help fund STI testing in the future.

Sen. Ben Brown ’11 said the SA is working out the best way to move forward with the Student Health Act, and that the discussion will continue during next.

At the meeting, the SA also reviewed the Fall 2009 Elections Delay Act, which postponed elections until Thursday, Oct. 1.

“We promoted it significantly better this time. We have several more candidates,” Sen. Ross Gillingham ’10 said.

Last week, the SA approved changes made to the Know Your Rights cards that are handed out to students at the beginning of the year.

The new version will be available at the end of the month or the beginning of October.

The Welcome Home Repayment Act was also discussed. The act will reimburse Undersecretary of Public Affairs Brian Focarino ’11 for the costs he personally took on for one of four “Welcome Home” banners that were on display during convocation.

“[The banners] were a huge hit,” bill sponsor Sen. Jill Olszewski ’12 said, “They’re durable. They’re great.”

The banners will be used for homecoming and other events at the college.

James Evans ’10, Chris Bettis J.D. ’11 and Mark Johnson ’10 were appointed to the Executive Review Board after a closed session was called.

Fayfay Shang ’11 was appointed as the new secretary of finance for the SA Executive. Shang, an accounting major, worked at Merrill-Lynch in Washington, D.C. over the summer.

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