University picks up tab to extend U-Pass

U of M will cover transit costs for more than 2,000 students not enrolled in winter term to finish fall semester

The University of Manitoba is covering the cost of extending the fall U-Pass for students who were scheduled to finish studies in December but had courses pushed into the new year following a faculty strike.

The three-week strike in November led the university to extend the fall term into the first week of January with an exam period running until Jan. 17.

John Kearsey, U of M vice-president external, said that when the university learned in December that Winnipeg Transit would not extend the fall term U-Pass – which was valid from Sept. 1 t hrough Dec. 31 – it moved to cover the costs for affected students.

“The moment we became aware of it, we said the right thing to do was make sure this was not an added burden for the students who are affected by this because of circumstances beyond their control and, certainly, at the time we were heading into holidays and it’s a time when people don’t need one more financial worry,” he said.

“It was an easy decision for us to make, quite frankly. Once it was brought to our attention we acted that very morning.”

The university registrar’s office estimates about 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students could be affected.

University of Manitoba Student Union president Tanjit Nagra said UMSU will be handing out the extended passes and affected undergraduate students were contacted before the holidays. She said the union is still awaiting a final list of affected graduate students from the registrar’s office.

Students enrolled in a full course load for the winter term are not impacted and can pick up their U-Pass at the Fireside Lounge in University Centre on the Fort Garry campus until Jan. 6. After Jan. 6, the passes can be picked up at Answers. Students on the Bannatyne Campus can pick up their passes at the Brodie Centre.

Adam Pawlak, UMSU vice-president internal, said that while he was frustrated that discussions with Winnipeg Transit did not settle the matter sooner, the university “stepped up to the plate and delivered a very positive thing for students.”

“We’re very happy about that,” he said, “and, obviously, [it is] something students will be happy about as well.”

The universal transit pass was introduced at the U of M this fall and offers full-time students unlimited access to Winnipeg bus services at a cost of $130 per term. The fee represents a $306 savings from regular student rates for monthly bus passes.

The adjusted winter term is scheduled to have exams finished by April 29. The winter U-Pass is valid until the end of April.