Letter: Students should vote for Class Pass referendum

Jaime Chong/Staff

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While I agree with ASUC Senator Noah Ickowitz’s statement encouraging the importance of ridership data to definitively and objectively decide whether a renewal of the Class Pass referendum provides an overall benefit rather than cost to our student body, this necessity for hard fact is precisely why the referendum needs to be passed this spring election.

As a member of the Class Pass Committee, I can attest that a portion of the technology fee he mentions will lead to clear data on student ridership of AC Transit buses.

One goal of the technology fund is to develop technology like the Clipper card, which riders scan to pay admission to AC Transit buses, and to incorporate this technology into the Cal 1 Card. With technology that scans each individual card, reliable data can be generated to calculate the average number of rides per person rather than a general figure for total rides taken.

This information will help future students decide whether to renew the Class Pass with hard facts rather than personal experience or speculation.

It is certainly refreshing that the Senate has recognized student participation and ridership as a crucial factor when funding transporta­tion, particularly after it spent a reported $400 to bus three students to San Francisco. I applaud the change of heart to one of fiscal responsibility, although I wish the senate had exercised more caution when determining the number of students to bus in support of a polarizing political cause than it did for supporting unlimited public transportation, which the Class Pass provides for thousands of students.

Like insurance, the Class Pass offers a more affordable alternative for those who need it most. Even if students who live close to campus may not use the buses, the Class Pass provides an invaluable service to students who live further away, such as in Clark Kerr or University Village, as well as those who work outside of Berkeley.

I agree with Senator Ickowitz. The Class Pass referendum is an imperfect one. Without clear ridership data, it is difficult to accurately assess the value that it provides to Cal students.

However, that should not prevent the Senate from approving the referendum to be on the ballot. Only the students can decide for themselves whether or not they find value in the referendum, and that opportunity to decide must be given to them on this spring’s ballot.

 Steven Johnson, ASUC senior marketing and web assistant