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MSU 2017 referenda: what will be on your ballot? An in depth look at the HSR pass, syllabus repository and the athletic & recreation expansion and student activity building referenda

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By: Gabi Herman

This year’s referenda ask students to make decisions about the HSR pass, a syllabus repository, and major expansions of student space. In order to succeed, a referendum must receive at least 50 per cent of popular vote. Voting will open on Jan. 24 at the same time as presidential votes.

Hamilton Street Railway Pass 

The terms of the student bus pass are renegotiated with the HSR every three years. Right now, all MSU members pay $150.80 for an HSR bus pass. This fee covers unlimited bus transportation and extended late-night service. It covers all 12 months of the year; as a reference point, a one-month HSR bus pass costs $101.

To maintain current service levels, the fee for next year would increase to $187.67. The only change in fee structure is a $5 fee for Presto card integration. The ballot will also include options for an eight-month bus pass and no extended route coverage. Students will be asked to rank the following options:

  • Twelve-month bus pass with extended service (current service level): Year 1 – $187.67, Year 2 – $206.16, Year 3 – $225.55
  • Twelve-month bus pass: Year 1 – $180.08, Year 2 – $198.25, Year 3 – $217.30
  • Eight-month bus pass with extended service: Year 1 – $180.08, Year 2 – $198.25, Year 3 – $217.30
  • Eight-month bus pass: Year 1 – $161.86, Year 2 – $179.24, Year 3 – $197.50
  • No bus pass: no fees

Ryan MacDonald, vice president (Finance), said that McMaster still remains below the $230 Ontario average for post-secondary bus passes. The 2013 HSR pass contract received widespread praise for its 12-month coverage and extended service. Results will show whether students are willing to foot the bill this time.

Syllabus Repository 

Currently, professors are not required to share course outlines or syllabi in a centralized, accessible location. In recent years, students have protested a lack of transparency in the courses they are paying for. This referendum asks students if the MSU vice president (Education) should advocate to the university for an open database of course outlines. It will have a simple yes/no option.

Athletic & Recreation Expansion and Student Activity Building 

With student concern about the high cost of university contrasting the growing need for student space, this referendum will likely be the most contentious. It asks students whether they want to fund an expansion of the Pulse and construction of a Student Activity Building. These expansions were both central to MSU president Justin Monaco-Barnes’ election platform, and he has taken a leave of absence in order to campaign for the “YES” side.

The options are as follows:

Option A 

This option is a vote for both the Student Activity Building and the Pulse expansion. The associated costs are: a $95 increase in the Athletics and Recreation fee next year, another $10 increase in the fee once the building is complete, and $3.95/unit (up to $118.50) once the building is complete.

The Pulse expansion proposes a 60,000 square foot expansion to the Pulse including extended hours, a women’s only fitness space, and a membership for all full-time students. The Student Activity Building would be 40,000 square feet and include multi-faith prayer space, study space, and multipurpose event and club space.

Option B

This option is a vote for just the Pulse expansion. The associated costs are: a $95 increase in the Athletics and Recreation fee next year, another $10 increase in the fee once the building is complete, and $1.97/unit (up to $59.10) once the building is complete.

The proposed 60,000 square foot expansion would include extended hours and a membership for all full-time students.

Option C 

No expansion.

If the referendum passes, these fees would continue until the year 2060.

Voting starts on Jan. 24 and ends on Jan. 26 at 5pm.

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