RRC students feel left out of the U-Pass party
Courtney Bannatyne, BEAT REPORTER
Some Red River College students are upset the college isn’t providing the U-Pass this year.
“I think that’s kind of unfair,” said Kenn Limpin, a digital media design student at RRC.
The University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg added $130 per term to full-time students’ tuition to include the new U-Pass. This gives students an unlimited transit pass while they’re in school.
“University is sometimes seen as being higher (in status) than a college,” Limpin, 19, said. “I feel like universities and colleges should be treated equally.”
Jada Zazulinski, a graphic design student, also said RRC should include the pass in tuition.
“I think that if the universities have it, the colleges should too,” she said.
Calvary deJong, vice president external of the RRCSA, said the students’ association is expecting students will want another referendum, since the two universities are providing the pass.
“The landscape has now changed,” deJong said. “Now other people are using the U-Pass.”
In the most recent RRC referendum for the U-Pass for the 2013-14 year, not enough students voted, so the college couldn’t implement the pass.
The students’ association by-laws state at least 20 per cent of the student population needs to vote to deem the referendum valid. Though the majority of survey respondents voted in favour of the U-Pass, only 15.6 per cent of students voted.
DeJong said he thinks the SA would consider another referendum if that’s what students want.
“It definitely makes sense that we would take another look at it,” deJong said. “The students’ association is wanting to engage membership in regards to the possibility of making the U-Pass available for Red River College students.”
DeJong said he thinks the majority of students would be in favour of the U-Pass.
Limpin said he would use the U-Pass if it were available to him, adding he’d vote in favour of the pass, even if he would graduate before it could come into effect.
“I’m graduating this year, but I would still vote,” he said. “It’s a great help to the next students that are coming in.”
Zazulinski said she would also vote in favour of the pass.
“Just for the sake of other people,” she said. “Students already have a lot of costs for college, and that’s just one less thing to worry about.”
But some students have issues with the pass. Janet Yuen, a student at the University of Manitoba, said it takes her an hour and a half to bus from her house to the university.
“With the (inefficiency) of the transit system right now, it’s not very ideal for me,” Yuen said.
Student ridership increased by up to 50 per cent in universities in BC and Alberta since they’ve implemented the U-Pass, according to a 2013 report from Winnipeg Transit.
The report also said in Edmonton, more than 50 per cent of students in a three-year U-Pass pilot program said they would continue to use transit as their primary mode of transportation after graduation.
DeJong said this is good news for RRC. The report states that an increase in ridership helps eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. He said if the college can get students taking the bus, then the environment will benefit from it too.
“In terms of the future of the city, trying to get more people using sustainable forms of transportation (is the goal),” deJong said.
The potential referendum would be in April, at the same time as the annual SA elections, according to the association’s bylaws.