University of Saskatchewan undergraduates have voted in favour of a spring and summer U-Pass.
The results were announced in Browser’s Café Nov. 15 after two days of online voting.
A total of 2,763 U of S students’ union members — or 86 per cent of the undergraduate student body that voted — voted in favour of a universal bus pass for undergraduates enrolled in classes during the spring and summer months. Only 405 voted against it and 40 formally abstained
The 10 per cent voter quorum necessary for the referendum to be legal was easily met.
The spring and summer U-Pass provides cheap ridership during May through June, and July through August. The cost per student, which will be tacked on to the union’s fees, is $36.75 per term.
Students not enrolled in classes during these months will not be charged.
Currently, students enrolled full-time in fall or winter classes are charged $73.51 per term for a four-month bus pass. A regular city bus pass costs $75 a month.
The same exemption rules that currently apply to the fall and winter U-Pass will also apply to the spring and summer passes. Students who qualify for an exemption must live in on-campus housing or outside of the city limits, have a university disability parking pass or be enrolled exclusively in distance education courses.
Students who wish to use the U-Pass may activate it at any time throughout the semester. Choosing not to activate the U-Pass will not exempt students from the fee.
U of S Students’ Union President Jared Brown said that students have become accustomed to having the U-Pass available throughout the regular school year and are shocked when spring comes around and their bus pass no longer works.
“What we find every single year is that students are really choked about not having that service available to them during those four months,” Brown said.
Since 2008, when undergraduates voted in favour of making the U-Pass permanent for fall and winter, the USSU has received many requests from students asking for a spring and summer U-Pass.
Last year’s USSU Vice-President of Operations and Finance Reid Nystuen worked throughout his term in office on negotiations with Saskatoon Transit to extend the U-Pass program to the spring and summer months.
St. Thomas More College student councillor Jordan Sherbino, who ran a campaign in favour of the spring and summer U-Pass, said that it has been a long time coming for the initiative and it is something that students have been needing.
“It is a positive thing for our campus. It’s something that [the USSU has] been asked for years and after four years we finally have it.”
Now that the U-Pass program has become standard for spring and summer, some students are asking the USSU to look into expanding and updating the exemption rules.
Currently students that live in on-campus housing and wish to apply for an exemption to the fee must live in residences north of College Drive — Ogle Hall, Voyageur Place Residence, Lutheran Theological Seminary or St. Andrew’s Residence.
Students living in one of the many residences along Cumberland Avenue, though they are within a couple blocks of campus, are not eligible for the U-Pass exemption.
Selene Barge, a first year kinesiology student who lives in College Quarter, said that she had no need for a bus pass since she lives in proximity to campus and owns a car.
“I had checked into the rules around opting out of a bus pass when classes first started,” Barge wrote. “At the time, I accepted it as being a part of my tuition although I wasn’t pleased about it.”
The university needs to keep up with its expanding student population, Barge said and suggested that students living in residences south of College Drive could opt out of the U-Pass by providing proof of vehicle registration.
“With new housing options coming to students, maybe the option of opting out will be addressed as the university grows and expands,” Barge said.
Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf