Volume 93, Issue 83

Wednesday, March 8, 2000


NEWS

Bus might stop for graduate students

McGill gets sued over dismissal

Feds sorry about money mix-up

Council to vote on White Paper position

Border officials get new powers

CBC program sparks a gene therapy debate

Downtown parking a developing concern

Briefs

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus 1

Caught on campus 2

Caught on campus 3

Bus might stop for graduate students



By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Beginning today, Western's graduate students can give their two cents on whether or not they want a $96 mandatory bus pass.

Full-time graduate students have three days to vote on a universal bus pass for the 2000-01 school year, in a referendum running today through Friday. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Susan McDonald, president of the Society of Graduate Students, said, unlike the University Students' Council, which represents Western's undergraduates, SOGS currently has no mandatory bus pass arrangement with the London Transit Commission.

However, many SOGS members expressed interest last year in putting the question to a vote, she said.

"Last year, there was a survey of graduate students to see whether or not there was a need to go to a referendum," she said. "The majority of those that responded said that, 'yes,' they wanted a referendum on the bus pass."

The proposed program is identical to that of the undergraduate bus pass plan and entails a $96 student fee for each of the full-time graduate students that SOGS represents.

John Ford, director of planning and services at the LTC, said an eight month pass would regularly cost students approximately $400. Western's undergraduate bus pass plan has proved popular with students, as 90 per cent of undergraduates picked up their passes this year, he said.

He added he thought the outcome of this week's referendum was hard to predict. "I don't have a feeling really one way or the other of how the referendum will turn out," he said. "In previous research, we've found that it's been pretty much split down the middle, 50-50."

Asad Khan, a chemistry graduate student, said he planned to vote "yes," as the bus pass would save him a considerable sum of money. "I'm going to be voting in favour [of the pass] because I spend $60 every month on a bus pass, which means for a four month term I'm paying $240," Khan said.

However, chemistry graduate student Chris Wrigley, said he opposed the pass since he lived within walking distance of campus. "I do not believe I should be forced to get a bus pass if I choose not to ride the bus," he said. "I don't see the point of making it mandatory for all grad-students, with no opt-out."

Brendan Dominick, chief returning officer for SOGS, said the LTC would not agree to a proposal which allowed students to opt-out. "The problem with the opt-out was that, similar to the undergrad bus pass, the only deal that LTC would enter was one with the mandatory bus pass – it was a question of all or nothing."

Dominick added he expected a strong voter turn-out as many graduate students considered this an important issue. "This is something that's on the forefront of a lot of people's minds," he said.


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