Editorial: Lack of communication unhealthy

International students are struggling this week, and once again we can chalk it up to the good old NU Shuffle.

Northeastern has made changes to the health coverage for all students without properly informing some international students, leaving many scrambling to find the right policy before Friday’s deadline.

Several provisions were changed after the university, with student input, negotiated a new health care plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield. For an international student to waive the university’s health care plan, which many find too costly, they must submit a plan the university deems comparable to the one offered by Northeastern.

Our problem isn’t with the university’s decision to switch, but rather the methods of communication they apparently used to inform the students of that switch: none at all. Some of our peers hailing from other countries now face the prospect of health care that is too expensive, or even worse, being forced into a situation they are unsure of far away from home.

There is an uncertainty for those students who purchased plans earlier. The policy options are leaving them unsure of what plan to option out of. With the requirements changed, will they still be eligible for coverage in the eyes of the university? What will happen to these students if Northeastern decides not to honor their plan, already a year old? These are questions many students are still asking, and the university’s response has too often been unclear.

Director of Customer Service David Winch said in a statement that the new requirements were meant as “guidelines.” But with many international students still asking questions, this is too little time for the university to answer everyone’s questions.

To make sure the concerns are addressed, the university should waive the deadline for international students who have questions.

Winch offered the opportunity of an “appeal” process if the students felt their plans were denied unfairly, but a rigorous roundabout of paperwork is no consolation for not being informed of the change in the first place.

Perhaps a situation as important as health care can serve as a wake-up call for Northeastern to listen to students before implementing sweeping policies – or at least have the courtesy to let them know when the policy is changing.

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