Columbia administrators have rejected the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) U-Pass program last week for the second time in six months, sparking a student backlash including a proposed student protest.
The U-Pass would provide full-time students with unlimited rides on CTA trains and buses.
According to a letter (See page 4), from the Dean of Students, Jean Lightfoot Lee, the sticking point remains the $60 fee per semester the school would assess to each full-time student no matter if they use the CTA or not.
The letter lists the results of a survey that was published in The Chronicle on Oct. 5. In the survey in which 277 students responded, only 12 students were not in favor of the U-Pass. According to school officials, a questionnaire will be given to students during early- registration for spring ‘99 semester. Depending on the outcome of the questionnaire, school officials will determine whether to take part in the program.
The proposed protest anchored by student, Aaron Munoz will take place on Friday, Nov. 13 on the fifth floor of the 600 S. Michigan building.
“The purpose of the rally is to bring the students together to show the administration there is power in numbers and we are strongly demanding that Columbia purchase the U-Pass program the CTA is offering, because it would benefit the majority of the students. The main issue is money and this is the reason Columbia doesn’t want to pick up the program,” said Munoz.
Columbia is exploring the idea of having a ‘pilot’ U-Pass program, in which only students who wanted the pass would pay for it, although the price would be more than the previous $60 fee.
According to the Dean’s office, not enough students responsed to a survey early in the semester to see if such a program would be beneficial. Only 277 students responded to the survey. “We need at least 60 percent of the college to feel comfortable about picking up the program,” she said.
Students charged that the survey wasn’t well publicized and the medium that was used didn’t allow for all students to get the information. The Deans’s Office say that they’re planning another survey and perhaps a mass mailing to attempt to get a greater reaction from the students.
But time may not be on the side of the college. Columbia missed the deadline in late October to get the U-Pass program on board for the spring semester. “We are trying now to see if we can get an extension for the Spring.” When the paper went to press, CTA U-Pass coordinator Calvin Pete said no one contacted him regarding an extension for the spring.