Graduate & professional students vote against transit access fee

SGPS President asks Council not to approve the decision

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Supplied via Wikimedia

In this week’s referendum, graduate and professional students voted against the renewal of the “Bus-It” student fee, which provides low-cost transit access for Queen’s students. The vote — if ratified — would mean graduate and professional students pay $912 per year for transit opposed to $90.

In a statement released Feb. 1, President of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students Adam Grotsky said, “a significant number of students fundamentally misunderstood the referendum question that was posed to them.”

The referendum question read, “Do you agree to an increase in the Bus-It (Kingston Transit Student Pass) mandatory student fee from $68.30 to $90.00, an increase of $21.70?”

The proposed increase comes as a result of the program’s review, which happens every three years. Each time the fee comes up for review, the change is similar to previous years, increasing slightly to accommodate route expansions.

“It is apparent that some students believed the proposed fee increase was for enhanced transit services, rather than unlimited access to the bus itself,” Grotsky wrote. “Others thought that by voting ‘no’, the fee would revert back to its current price.”

According to Grotsky, the SGPS has received feedback that the conditions of the fee should’ve been promoted better by the society. However, Grotsky said the matter is more complex than that.

“What I’ve been explaining to students is that the Bus-It contract is between the AMS and Kingston Transit. Since we’re not a party to the contract, it’s not classified as an SGPS fee and we are unable to promote it directly through the SGPS,” he told The Journal. “I spoke with Kingston Transit today about the need for a tri-party contract moving forward to avoid this from reoccurring.”

While Grotsky believes affordable access to public transit is an essential service for graduate and professional students, the graduate president is urging for SGPS Council to vote against ratifying the decision.

“All referendum results must be ratified by SGPS Council prior to taking full force and effect,” Grotsky wrote in his statement. “This measure is in place for circumstances precisely like the one we now face.”

If Council votes against ratification, Grotsky said he will move to initiate a special referendum in March to give students the chance to re-vote. Grotsky noted the special referendum would use language that “clearly underscores the question’s purpose and meaning” to ensure clarity.

The AMS received 52.2 per cent of votes in favour of the Bus-It fee on Tuesday, ensuring undergraduate student access to transit for the next three years.

SGPS Council members will be given the chance to vote for or against the ratification at a Council meeting on Feb. 13.

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