The Rice Thresher
by David Berry
The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday asking the administration to provide full financial support for students taking Health Sciences 308, the basic Emergency Medical Technician class, in order to receive the certification necessary to volunteer with the Rice Emergency Medical Services.
Although the resolution does not ask for a specific amount of money, President Malcolm Gillis said he will provide $8,000 to fund HEAL 308. This money comes from the president's discretionary funds and a new request must be made each year.
"I will do it, although in a tight budget year most special requests are being denied," Gillis said. "I understand that this is one of the top priorities of the SA, and I am willing to fund their top priorities."
SA President Matt Haynie first proposed the resolution Sept. 23. Only minor changes were made from his initial draft, Haynie said.
HEAL 308, taken by about 20 students each spring, provides the certification necessary for students to volunteer with REMS. Last year, students taking the class were required to pay a $400 fee to cover class costs.
The $8,000 may be used to fund HEAL 308 in whatever way the SA chooses, Gillis said.
"We will have to take up exactly how to use the money at an SA meeting after fall break," Haynie said. "We will get EMTs to come in and ask them their opinion, and vote on it, but I see no reason why we shouldn't agree with what they recommend."
REMS Captain David Melville, a Martel College senior, said if the decision were up to him, he would try to just eliminate the fee.
Another possibility is to implement a program that reimburses, on a pro-rated basis, this year's HEAL 308 students who go on to volunteer with REMS, Haynie said.
"We may only pay them back their fee as they volunteer for a length of time," Haynie said.
He said there may be a problem with funding if more than 20 students are allowed to take the class because the $8,000 will not be sufficient, but that he thinks this is still a good beginning.
"This is the first issue I have been involved with which had such a strong showing of student support," Haynie said. "I talked to no senator and no college president who didn't think that we should eliminate the fee."
Although more funding for future HEAL 308 classes is not guaranteed, Haynie said he thinks they will probably be able to obtain this funding.
"I understand that Gillis cannot guarantee future funding, but this does set a strong precedent," Haynie said.
Gillis said he will encourage REMS to continue to apply for budget enhancements to increase funding for the class.
"If someone else, lower in the administration, thinks this is important too and will fund part, I would be more likely to fund the rest," Gillis said.