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LETTER: U-Pass and vote process unfair and unreasonable

St. John's Metrobus
file photo

Last week students at Memorial casted their ballots in a vote for a U-Pass.

It may be of some benefit to students who use Metrobus — $139 a semester instead of around $300 for a bus pass — but to other students, this is not so beneficial and the process of implementation is unfair.

Students who have worked long hours to buy and operate their own cars now have to pay for a service that they will likely never use. Such students may now have to work extra shifts. A compromise during the first couple of years of implementation allowing those who already own vehicles the option to opt out has been shot down.

Students already pay many fees in addition to their tuition.

This is yet one more burden that will be placed upon students — a burden for some that is just too much to absorb, causing additional barriers to a post-secondary education.

One of the biggest concerns with this proposal is the way that it is being implemented. It is being pushed by the administration, municipalities and Metrobus and not by students. Students are not organizing or outright asking for this.

Few students came out to the consultation sessions.

If Metrobus wants this pass to be implemented, it should have to convince students but instead it is using tactic of low-key organizing hoping that enough students who use Metrobus will vote for the fee to be implemented

The university put glossy, coloured posters up around campus in favour of a U-Pass. Where was the opportunity for presenting opposite side of the argument? This gave the Yes side an unfair advantage in the vote.

The main reason behind this proposal seemed to be due to the parking crisis (on campus). While the U-Pass will improve public transit, is it fair for all students to have to pay and that the provincial government is not investing?

A provincial public transit plan is needed to improve transit on the Avalon, but instead the municipalities are getting better transit paid for out of the pockets of students and their citizens are benefitting without having to pay a higher rate to use the bus.

The Students’ Union officially represents all undergraduate students according to provincial legislation, but many of the concerns listed above have not been mentioned by the student union in statements to media.

Instead, the main focus seems to be on asking that a universal opt-out option be added to the proposal. This is naive and such an option would defeat the purpose of the U-Pass which is a discounted bus pass with additional improvements to service such as quicker headway times for current routes and additional routes.

The student union also puts emphasis on the difference between a student vote and referendum — the student union has a policy that states for additional students fees, a binding referendum must be held which sounds good but ignores that the Board of Regents still has to approve and gets final say on any new fees.

Honestly, the best option seemed to be to vote No out of principle of it not being conducted in a fair manner.

How about having a third party conduct a vote that is agreed on by all stakeholders? Making funding available so that information from both sides can equally be available for student consumption is a must.

Students and others were indeed allowed to do whatever they want in this vote but expecting students to pay of pocket for advertising materials in support of their views against the U-Pass when the university is funding one side is not reasonable.

Matthew Barter

MUN student,

St. John’s

Related story:

LETTER: The case for the student U-Pass in St. John's

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