Reported by Cass Lucke
Full time continuing studies students have been approved to join the Langara Students’ Union next fall, a controversial move that could be interpreted as breaking the U-Pass collective contract with TransLink and the Ministry of Transportation.
In Vancouver, all student societies have a standing contract with TransLink and the Ministry of Transportation stating that every student enrolled in a credit course can receive a U-Pass by paying union fees.
At Langara, continuing studies students have never been part of the LSU because the majority doesn’t receive course credits. However, according to the LSU, continuing studies students want to be included in the union.
Those 500 students enrolled in full-time continuing studies programs now receive credits.
The LSU passed a new bylaw on Jan. 6 to include these students into the union in September, but this does not guarantee they will receive a U-Pass.
TransLink does not anticipate changes to contract with LSU
According to TransLink, these contracts don’t foresee expansion to include additional students.
“TransLink is not aware of any votes being conducted by student associations,” said TransLink media relations advisor Jill Andrews. “There is nothing in current agreements that eyes expansion of the program.”
The LSU’s media spokesperson, who wouldn’t give their name, said in an email that the additional students shouldn’t affect the U-Pass contract.
“At this time, no new negotiations need to be made,” the spokesperson said.
Other colleges don’t include continuing studies in unions
Alex McGowan, president of the Kwantlen Student Association, which is also a part of this contract, said unions can’t make their own changes in the agreement.
“Even with a certain amount of variance permitted between student societies, all unions have the same U-Pass agreement,” he said. “Individual negotiations are not permitted.”
McGowan said the KSA doesn’t include continuing studies students in its student union benefits.
“I don’t think this is possible. Either a student society participates in the U-Pass program or you don’t,” he said. “That is a decision that is put to students in a referendum of the student society.”