Part-time UTM students voted last week in favour of getting the U-Pass for summer 2012.

UTM’s part-time student union, Erindale Part-time Undergraduate Students, held a referendum last Tuesday through Thursday to ask all current part-time students to vote on whether they wanted to participate in the U-Pass service and associated fees for the coming summer session. They voted in favour of the part-time summer 2012 U-Pass and for a possible eight-month U-Pass for 2012/13.

According to the unofficial results, about 14% of part-time students turned out to vote in the referendum. Of these, 90% voted in favour of the summer U-Pass, with only 6% voting against.

Meanwhile, 93% voted in favour of the eight-month U-Pass and 6% voted against. EPUS will ratify the results at their next meeting.

EPUS will communicate the results of the referendum, including voter turnout and percent in favour, to Mississauga Transit. If Mississauga Transit finds their results satisfactory, they will agree to provide the part-time U-Pass.

If they approve it, part-time students will pay an obligatory $86.70 for the U-Pass. For the summer session, any student taking 1.0 credits or less is considered part-time.

“Mississauga Transit understands where we’re coming from; they’re on our side,” said Cherri-Ann Valentine, the president of EPUS. She believes that giving all students a U-Pass would eliminate the problem of students selling their unused U-Pass to ineligible students.

“At the beginning, voter turnout was a little dry, but we [were] really pushing, trying to reach out to students,” said Abhinab Chakraborty, the VP Part-Time Affairs for UTMSU.

To maximize voter turnout, EPUS arranged mail-out ballots for part-time students who could not make it to campus during the voting times. Both EPUS and UTMSU reached out to students through email, Facebook notifications, and in-class announcements.

Valentine explained it was important to raise awareness about the referendum with full-time students as well, because they may be considered part-time students during the summer, when the results of the referendum will take effect.

EPUS reformed in September of last year, about four years after the organization had disbanded. With the help of the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (the part-time student union at St. George, which represents members on all three campuses) and UTMSU, that is exactly what happened.

“It took some convincing [the administration] that the organization was on its feet, but it still gained recognition on campus,” said Valentine.

EPUS has also been working on other part-time student issues to ensure all their members’ needs are met. Recently, EPUS worked with the Early Learning Centre and on parking fee increases.

“The U-Pass is an issue, but not the only issue,” said Valentine. “Parking wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we had the U-Pass. Even if I can’t fix all the problems, I want to get the ball rolling.”

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