On Feb. 26–28, graduate students at the University of Saskatchewan took to the polls to vote on the permanent installation of a universal transit pass — a U-Pass — and approved it for the fall and winter terms.
By a small margin, graduate students did not have enough votes in favour to pass of the U-Pass during the spring and summer terms.
Graduate Students’ Association Vice-President Student Affairs Reanne Ridsdale said the possibility of a spring and summer U-Pass has not been completely defeated because students haven’t been able to experience a summer bus pass like they have with the other months.
“I think the referendum results speak for themself. It’s a good program.”
A total of 1,154 ballots were cast on PAWS with a voter turnout just shy of 40 per cent. The number of eligible voters was 2,895. As a majority of 63 per cent voted in favour of the fall and winter U-Pass while 36 per cent were opposed and one per cent — 13 votes — abstained.
The motion did not pass because the GSA requires a referendum to have half of the votes plus one majority to pass. There was a margin of 0.6 per cent between those in favour of the U-Pass — 49.39 per cent — and those opposed — 48.70. Slightly more students abstained from this question with a total of 21 — 1.82 per cent.
The U-Pass will cost students $102.88 per term during the fall and winter terms.
In March 2013, graduate students voted in favour of a one-year trial period for the U-Pass beginning in September of that year.
Until then, only undergraduate students had a discounted bus pass available for them. Graduate students had the option of buying a monthly adult bus pass for $81 or a post-secondary semester pass for $264 that would cover the months of September to December or January to April.
To be exempt from the U-Pass, students must either live outside of Saskatoon city limits, be eligible for discounted passes under Saskatoon transit’s agreement with social services, be away from Saskatoon working or doing research for half of a term, enrolled solely in off-campus classes, hold a disabilities parking pass, have a disability that precludes them from using city transit or live in on-campus housing — Voyageur Place Residence, Lutheran Theological Seminary or St. Andrew’s.
David Bennett was a member of the team that ran a ‘Yes’ campaign for the referendum. He said a lot of graduate students had been approaching the GSA asking for their own U-Pass, making it a necessity.
“We really believed in affordable and sustainable transportation options for graduate students like undergraduate students have had,” Bennett said.
Bennett said that they had expected only the fall and winter U-Pass to make it through the referendum, since a lot of graduate students are off-campus doing research during the spring and summer and would have to opt-out anyway.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor