Students Favour the bus pass, but will the Board?
By Mark Brown
A majority of Western students may have voted in favour of the universal bus pass, but the University Students' Council and London Transit Commission will have to win the support of the Board of Governors to ensure students will not miss the bus.
On the ballot for the USC presidential election last week, full-time undergraduate students were asked by referendum if they would support a $75 universal bus pass. Students voted overwhelmingly in favour of the pass which is expected to be in place for September 1998. However, several people are concerned the bus pass might not be approved since any increase in student fees must be passed by the Board of Governors.
"The next task is to sit down with London Transit to finalize plans and to talk to Western's Board of Governors and administration," said USC President Ryan Parks. "I am really confident that the Board of Governors will pass it."
VP-student issues Sam Castiglione said he is not sure how the Board will vote on this issue since they have not approved increases to student fees in the past. "By not passing the part-time student health plan [last year] they have indicated that they might not pass fees even if they pass through referendum."
Peter Mercer, Western's VP-academic, said there is concern over student fee increases because it could affect recruiting. "The Board will have to look at the benefits of the pass to ensure fees do not get out of hand."
The part-time health plan was rejected last year by the Board because it would have added a substantial cost to students who may have only been taking one course, Mercer added.
"It is a win-win situation for students, the LTC and all of London. There is no reason why the Board wouldn't support it," said London Mayor and voting member of the Board Dianne Haskett.
John Ford, director of planning for the LTC, also said he is confident the Board will agree to the pass. "There has always been a concern but I don't anticipate any problem considering the strength of the vote."
Don Baluk, VP-operations of the association of continuing education students, said he is upset part-time students were not included and is afraid this will destroy their chances of getting their own bus pass.
Parks said although the LTC does not want to subsidize part-time students it did not seem adverse to the possibility of students with three courses becoming eligible for the pass.
The bus pass, along with the fee schedule, will be presented to the Board in April.