U-Pass referendums arrive on Lower Mainland campuses

BCIT Student Association councillors voted on November 15 to hold a referendum early next year to determine whether students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology will come onboard the U-Pass program.

If the U-Pass is approved in the balloting, tentatively set for January 7 to 17, 2011, BCIT students could have universal transit passes starting in the summer term, according to association president Jordan Harris.

“There is always going to be huge supporters of it,” Harris told the Straight by phone. “There’s also people who don’t want it. Everyone pays into the program and gets benefits from it. Not everyone is going to use those benefits as much as others.”

In June, the provincial government announced the expansion of the U-Pass program, which provides students access to transit services in exchange for a levy. In the Lower Mainland, the program covers four public institutions so far: UBC, SFU, Langara College, and Capilano University.

Schools such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University have encountered problems in negotiating U-Pass contracts with TransLink, causing delays in the holding of student referendums. But institutions like Emily Carr University, whose students voted in October to adopt the U-Pass, have forged ahead. Emily Carr students will get their U-Pass cards next year.

Tiffany Kalanj, spokesperson for the OnePassNow coalition, told the Straight that Vancouver Community College students will vote between November 29 and December 1 on the U-Pass. She added that a referendum at Douglas College is set to be held November 30 to December 2.

“The way it works is that the student unions have to feel confident”¦that they can take a vote to their membership, and that has certainly happened for Emily Carr, VCC, and Douglas,” Kalanj explained when asked about certain schools getting left behind in the U-Pass expansion process.

Comments

4 Comments

cyclist and former uni post grad student

Nov 18, 2010 at 9:10am

We have way too many lazy transit sloths in this city. Buy a bike and get off the loozzer cruiser B-Line or whatever loozzer cruiser you are taking. U-Pass is conditioning you to live far from school so that you will live far from work after you graduate to continue supporting the fat cats at TransLink. Get off the treadmill, the only way for us to become truly sustainable is for you to live close to work or school and to quit commuting hours every day; it is neither productive nor sustainable regardless what the monkeys at TransLink say.

3 0Rating: +3

tim.

Nov 18, 2010 at 9:11am

kwantlen encountered problems? no, the kwantlen student association purposely missed deadlines with translink because they don't want the onepassnow coalition to take credit for this tremendous achievement.

kwantlen's student association is just playing politics -- poor politics.

3 0Rating: +3

Matt Todd

Nov 18, 2010 at 11:44pm

This story implies that Kwantlen somehow encountered different problems than all the other schools. The quotes from Ms. Kalanj seem to corroborate this conception, but it is simply untrue. The simple reality is that ALL schools are under the exact same contract, negotiated at the exact same table, all together.

The reason Kwantlen delayed its referendum is because it was planned for mid-October. Back in August when we were promised that the contract would be completed in early September, we made plans to put it to referendum as quickly as possible. But here we are in late November and we still don't have a public contract. Kwantlen is most certainly not delaying this process.

I guess other student associations think it's OK to go to referendum on a program even though their students can not access the contract to see what they are signing up for, but we believe that it is important for democratic integrity that students have the opportunity to review the program details before they vote. That's not politics. That's responsible governance.

What's silly politics is the idea that any of these schools will get their U-Passes any earlier by having a referendum now instead of February (which is when Kwantlen will have its vote). Every school who has a successful referendum between now and March will all start at the exact same time -- May 2011. The only exception to this is Emily Carr, and only because they are such a small school that their administration can pull it off many weeks faster than the rest of us.

No school is being left behind in the U-Pass expansion process. Since Ms. Kalanj knows better than to suggest anything such thing, I am going to assume that her quote was used out of context.

4 1Rating: +3

Beaze

Nov 19, 2010 at 12:05pm

LOL. CFS hacks are funny! Onepass wuz $25, but pass is $30, an will be $35 in 2 years says translink site! Haha... big win on failure hacks!

5 2Rating: +3