U-Pass program deferred a semester due to online classes
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
After MRU decided that online classes would be the safest option for students in the wake of COVID-19, it was announced that the university’s U-Pass program would not be offered for the upcoming fall semester.
According to MRU’s website, students will not be charged for the U-Pass this semester. Before COVID-19, MRU students were automatically charged $151 for a U-Pass per semester and had to complete opt-out forms in order to waive the fee.
This decision comes after many students came together, calling for decreased tuition and fees — including the U-Pass program. One student launched a petition calling on the provincial government, Alberta’s minister of advanced education and MRU’s dean of the faculty of health, community and education, to lower these costs.
“Due to COVID, a lot of students have lost their jobs and are struggling financially,” says the description of the petition. “We have yet to see a proper response or justification of why full tuition for remote learning is reasonable and fair. We seek to urge the people who have the power to change this to think of the students’ best interests and lower tuition rates for this fall semester.”
The petition also asks for other amenities, such as recreational facilities, to be removed from students’ fees. As of mid-July, students are expected to pay for an athletic fee for the upcoming semester, despite MRU Recreation being closed for the foreseeable future.
According to MRU Recreation’s Twitter account, the facilities are following provincial guidelines when planning its re-opening.
“Right now, we’re working through the detailed guidelines to decide on when and how the MRU Recreation Centre will reopen. The safety and well-being of our community will guide these plans,” says MRU Recreation on Twitter.
While this U-Pass program cut means lower fees for some, it may also be a barrier for students who rely on Calgary Transit as a main mode of transportation. Having the option for a U-Pass could save students up to $570 each year.
In the meantime, MRU is encouraging students who rely on public transportation to look at alternative options, such as low-income monthly transit passes. You can find those options on the Calgary Transit website.
The U-Pass program is expected to relaunch for the 2021 winter semester.