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Grad students pass on bus
By Stephanie Cesca
Although it was close, 52 per cent of Western's graduate students voted "No" to adopting a mandatory bus pass for the 2000-01 academic year.
Brendan Dominick, chief returning officer for the Society of Graduate Students, said 587 of 2,000 eligible voters cast a ballot. He added the referendum's results would be made final today, unless an appeal is made.
Dominick explained yesterday and today would be the two business days when a grad student could appeal. "You can't appeal the referendum the outcome," he said. "But you can appeal the process."
For instance, Dominick exmplained, grounds for appeal could be if anyone opposed a place on campus where one could, or could not, vote.
He said this referendum had the highest voter-turnout ever and it was because the bus pass was a contentious issue which affected everybody. "It was going to directly hit people in their pocket books. It was a really hot topic," he said.
"There's some disappointment," said John Ford, director of planning and services at the London Transit Commission. "We're not totally surprised because we knew it would be fairly close. We've done some research in the past in a questionnaire and the results were very close."
Colin Coros, a biochemistry graduate student, said he voted "No" to the bus pass and was glad it was not approved. "I think it's a good price for those who take the bus," he said. "But I have a car and I like to drive to school. I think they could have negotiated a better deal."
Although biochemistry graduate student Hong Hung does not have a car, he said he still voted against the pass because he did not think it was fair to all students.
"I thint should have passed," said Tammy Johnson, a library and information science student. However, Johnson also said she could understand why it did not pass, explaining she thought the deal could have been handled more appropriately, such as by allowing some students to opt-out.
Susan McDonald, president of SOGS, said several graduate students expressed an interest in the bus pass last year, when SOGS held a survey to determine whether or not to hold a referencum. "We had a very, very high response to that. The majority said they did want to go to referendum for the bus pass," she said.
This is what prompted SOGS to approach the LTC last summer, she said. The LTC did their own research and offered a potential deal to SOGS. "The LTC offered to include us with the bus pass deal they have with the undergraduates."
McDonald did not want to speculate on why, or why not, the majority of graduate students did not support the bus pass, but said graduates possibly had more cars than undergraduate students.
With regards to this referendum, McDonald said she was pleased with the high voter turnout. "I was very impressed at how close it was," she said.