CSU Wants Reduced STM Fare Passes for All Full-Time Students

Council Ponders How to Engage More Students

CSU council adopted a motion calling for student transit passes for all full-time students regardless of age. Photo Brandon Johnston

Mature students are students too. And the Concordia Student Union says it’s time they’re treated as such.

At its council meeting last Wednesday, the CSU voted in favour of demanding that the Société de transport de Montréal make all full-time students, regardless of age, eligible for reduced transit fares.

Currently, only students under the age of 26 have access to reduced-fare monthly transit passes costing $45, while students aged 26 and above pay the full price of $77.

On Oct. 23, a joint press release with seven other student associations from McGill University, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Montréal was published, making a demand for an extension of reduced fares to full-time students over the age of 25.

CSU President Melissa Kate Wheeler signed onto the press release without having ever brought the issue to council, the student union’s decision-making body, for a vote. She apologized at the council meeting for not informing councillors ahead of time, but stood by her decision given the short timeframe for deciding on whether or not to sign on.

“It was really time sensitive because they wanted to publish this really quickly, so we had about a day, a day and a half to make a decision as to whether we were going to sign on,” she said. “It seemed like a pretty clear call to both [VP External Affairs] Caroline [Bourbonnière] and myself that it fell within the values of the CSU.”

The press release was ultimately published two weeks ahead of Montreal’s municipal election and specifically called upon the candidates in the race to support reduced fares for all full-time students.

Some CSU councillors said they wished they’d have been informed about the decision to sign the press release before reading about it in the student press, but most also expressed their support for the position taken.

“The fact that the documentation that’s out there shows that the average age of Concordia students is 26 years old, the fact that the CSU’s mandates are all about accessibility [and] fairness […] to me it seems like a little bit of a non-issue,” said Adam Veenendaal, a CSU arts and science councillor.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the position with no abstentions. The motion adopted also called upon the French-only press release to be translated into English for the sake of the union’s membership and for “legal purposes.”

Engaging Students

The council meeting on Nov. 13 also included a discussion on how to get students more involved in the CSU. The union has seen seven resignations in the past two months.

Nine arts and sciences students are running in the CSU byelections from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21 for four council seats available to undergrads in the faculty. Eight students are running for the five John Molson School of Business seats up for grabs.

But three candidates are running unopposed for the seats available to engineering and computer science undergrads, and there are no fine arts candidates, despite the fact that the faculty currently has no representation on council. Independent students will also continue to go without representation.

CSU engineering and computer sciences councillor Chuck Wilson said he believes CSU elections still aren’t being advertised as well as they could be. He said that many of the candidates running in the byelection are people with a stake in student initiatives that have a relationship with the CSU.

A few of the candidates for CSU council seats are working with the Concordia Food Coalition. The CFC is asking undergraduates for a fee-levy of eight cents per course credit. Other candidates have been involved in departmental student associations.

“I am always delighted when I see someone come from absolutely nowhere […] and [they] run for council,” Wilson said. “That means that they’re actually coming with zero baggage from other associations or student groups.”

VP Finance Scott Carr made an impromptu suggestion that the CSU hire a second marketing coordinator to work specifically on raising awareness of the CSU and its elections.

“Let’s be honest, the reason why students don’t know about [elections] is because we don’t tell them,” he said. “You think sending out a newsletter is telling students that there’s an election and what it actually means? No.”

But Wheeler and VP Student Life Katrina Caruso dismissed Carr’s suggestion, noting that the CSU has yet to see what its first marketing coordinator will be able to do for the union. Carr’s motion ultimately did not receive the support of council in a vote, with one vote in favour, six against and two abstentions.

Another proposal on whether a committee should be formed to examine ways of improving the situation was tabled until the next council meeting.