The UMSU board of directors took an official position in support of the continuation of enrolment in the U-Pass program and set the dates of the deciding referendum for Feb. 12 to 14 during its Jan. 16 meeting.
The motion deciding support stated UMSU is “committed to protecting and enhancing the social, economic and ecological environment, and to promoting socially accountable and sustainable practices.”
Moved by the executive committee, the motion in part declared “UMSU’s board of directors take a stance in support of continued enrolment in the U-Pass.”
Despite some board members expressing concerns that the board’s taking a stance on the U-Pass would be inappropriate, the motion passed by a vote of 20-11.
The referendum will offer students a ranked ballot to decide between three possible outcomes.
One option will be to maintain the current U-Pass at a cost increase of $24.50 for each of the fall and winter semesters.
A second option will be to increase the fall U-Pass by $24.50 and to extend the winter U-Pass through to the end of August with the combined winter and summer U-Pass costing $237.90.
The third option will be to remove the U-Pass from the program entirely.
UMSU president Jakob Sanderson showed unfettered support for the motion and the continuation of the U-Pass program at the meeting.
“I think we have to stand up for sustainability,” he said.
“I think we have to stand up for those financially disadvantaged students that depend on the U-Pass every day to be able to have affordable transportation, and I think that it is fair for us to go to the students and say ‘Here’s what we’d really like you to do, but we’re not going to do it if you don’t want us to.’”
“It’s our duty to be able to make the case to students that this is a program worth saving, and to be able to try and get as emphatic a referendum result as possible, so we can communicate to the city that this is a program worth saving,” he added.
The motion states that “the U-Pass is UMSU’s most used service and is of critical value to students requiring affordable transportation.”
Sanderson said that the 25 per cent increased ridership on routes to the U of M helps reduce emissions and that the U-Pass is a “much-needed” subsidy for the 54 per cent of students predominantly using transit.
UMSU vice-president finance and operations Mbuli Matshe also showed support for the motion.
“For us not to stand behind the service that we feel, as UMSU, is as effective as it is, is counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve here at the union,” he said.
Interested groups of students are encouraged to form recognized sides, which are “any chief returning officer-recognized group of individuals representing a particular position on a referendum question,” and be allotted resources with which to campaign.
The referendum’s date has been moved from Feb. 10-12 to Feb. 12-14 in accordance with UMSU policing requiring referendums be held on a Wednesday through Friday.
The U-Pass referendum will now be held from Feb. 12 to 14.