The Daily Illini

ISS supports addition of gender confirmation surgery to student health insurance

By Megan Jones

Cheers and hugs were instantly expressed from transgender student Stephanie Skora and several members of the Campus Union for Trans* Equality and Support after the Illinois Student Senate passed an executive order in support of adding gender confirmation surgery to student health insurance coverage. 

The order passed at Wednesday’s meeting with a vote of 19 to 7 with five abstentions.

“Student insurance is not a required fee. Not every student is forced to pay for insurance,” Skora said during the meeting’s public comment. “If it came down to it, all of us would choose ($2.22) to save a life.”

The University Board of Trustees will review the student insurance policy at its March 6 meeting. The plan was passed on by the Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee, but members said it would be sent with “reservations.” 

Student Trustee Mike Cunningham has previously expressed concern regarding the lack of time the administration has had to review the plan.

Cunningham was invited to the meeting by Student Body President Damani Bolden, but he did not attend.

“Michael Cunningham’s opinion doesn’t hold any weight on this floor,” said Brian Siegel, senior in Media and former Illini Media employee. “He has barely come to discuss any issues with us. … I don’t think his decision to vote ‘no’ has anything to do with the information he has before him, and it is just a political move.”

Senator Nate Hesch, junior in Engineering, said he is proud of the University for having this conversation, as he doesn’t think other universities are talking about it. 

“It’s really hard for me to be in support of this, as we are approaching a 15 percent increase (in student health insurance fees),” Hesch said. “This seems like a huge leap in financial power, so it’s really hard to tag this on at the end.”

Senator Tony Fiorentino, graduate student, said he understands students’ concerns about other services not being covered, such as optical and dental benefits. 

“If you have an issue that’s not covered, you should come forth and lobby the committee,” Fiorentino said. “If someone gets lung cancer from smoking, you may disagree with the fact that they were smoking, but you would still want them to get treatment.” 

Though senator Joshua Baaman, sophomore in LAS, said students should express their opinions through a referendum question, there is not enough time to submit a referendum question to the Campus Student Election Commission.

Megan can be reached at [email protected]

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