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GSC opposes any optional coverage

By Dave Watt

In a rebuff to MIT Pro-Life, the Graduate Student Council overwhelmingly adopted a resolution opposing optional abortion coverage in the MIT Student Health Insurance plan. The resolution was passed 21-2 at the GSC meeting in Walker Memorial Tuesday evening.

The resolution, in the form of a letter the GSC will send to Linda L. Rounds, executive director of the Medical Department, expresses the GSC's opposition to allowing "optional coverage for any procedure under the current MIT student insurance plan." At present, Student Health Insurance covers the cost of elective abortions.

Olof C. Hellman G, who introduced the resolution at the meeting, said it came in response to a petition circulated by MIT Pro-Life, which proposed making the plan's coverage of abortions optional for policy holders. The petition has been signed by more than 100 people, over half of whom are graduate students, according to Juan A. Latasa '91, Pro-Life's insurance liaison.

Hellman explained that allowing this one exemption might set a precedent, allowing other groups to demand refunds for medical procedures to which they object.

Latasa was surprised to hear that the GSC had passed such a resolution. "MIT Pro-Life was never asked to submit or explain our proposal to the Graduate Student Council," Latasa said.

"This is such a personal issue that I don't think they can say that it's in the interests of all graduate students to support this. This just shows that a referendum on the matter could be helpful," he added.

Other business

On other matters, the GSC called for the MIT administration to donate the land of the homeless shelter at 240 Albany St. to the organizers of the shelter. The shelter, run by the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol Rehabilitation (CASPAR), is the only homeless shelter in Cambridge that permits people with drug or alcohol problems to stay there. [See story on Albany St. shelter, page 1.]

Also, the GSC announced changes in their policy regarding appointments to Institute committees. The GSC said it will from now on appoint the graduate students who serve on Institute committees.

Previously, the GSC merely recommended students for the committees, and the committee chair, a member of the faculty, then selected the graduate students for the committee from the GSC recommendations. It is not clear whether this new GSC decision will have any effect on the committee appointment procedure.

The GSC said it will also require those students working on the committees to make progress reports back to the GSC, and that it now reserves the right to remove students from the committees when the council believes they are not representing graduate students' interests.

The first appointments made under the new GSC policy were to the Ad Hoc Committee on Demonstrations. The council chose Andrew D. Silber G and Hellman, but with the provision that the students would serve on the committee only if President Charles M. Vest responded to the GSC resolution on appointments in a letter.

In the resolution, the GSC demands that Vest address three points. Vest is asked to write that he "is aware of and understands" the GSC's new committee appointments policy; that he agrees that all members of a given committee should sign its final report, or be permitted to include dissenting opinions; and that "in view of the history of problems with the committee process," he is committed to reviewing the whole issue of committees and representation at MIT.