The U-Pass referendum campaign, represented by current Students’ Union (SU) executives, asked students to look beyond the pandemic and into the future when considering their vote.
During Monday’s first forum, Alana Krahn, the SU’s current vice-president (operations and finance), opened with a brief rundown of the benefits that the U-Pass provides students, sticking to the campaign’s two feature points: accessibility and affordability.
Krahn began by noting that the U-Pass provides universal access to seven municipalities, consisting of Edmonton and surrounding areas. She also emphasized that the cost of the U-Pass, $45 per month, is a discounted price, regardless of which of the serviced municipalities you reside in. Finally, Krahn ended her opening statement by assuring that those worried about the format of fall classes can rest easier knowing that students enrolled solely in online courses will not have to pay the U-Pass fee.
Krahn’s final statement of the forum reaffirmed that, as the U-Pass contract lasts four years, it will be something students can “look forward to, well into the future.”
A guarantee that, once the uncertainty of the pandemic has finally passed, we will still have access to an affordable transit pass is as reassuring as the guarantee that if we don’t need to be on campus, we won’t have to pay a U-Pass fee at all.
At the Residence Forum, Katie Kidd, the SU’s current vice-president (student life), invited students living in residence to consider the benefits of accessible transit for transportation besides getting to and from class.
She also urged students to look at the long-term, to consider that their circumstances of living on campus may change and that, if they do, access to affordable and reliable transit will continue to be there if the U-Pass referendum passes.
For the first time since the U-Pass’ creation in 2007, the price for students will not change during the duration of the 2021-25 contract. While the loss of the university subsidy will cause the price paid by students to jump slightly, the stability of the cost over the next four years is welcome.
How the next semester will be delivered is uncertain. What is not uncertain, however, is that the U-Pass will continue to offer students the most affordable access to public transit next fall and beyond. With the end to the alternatives provided by the city on the horizon, the U-Pass will be the most affordable option for students to access campus and navigate other aspects of their lives.
Students living on and off campus are understandably concerned with the cost of attending the University of Alberta now more than ever. However, while the price of the U-Pass will be increasing slightly, it will remain the most affordable option and I encourage voters to look beyond next fall when considering the referendum.