Board of Trustees should pass the MTD referendum

The referendum concerning Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District campus bus routes on the March 5 student ballot that would ultimately benefit the student body for very little pay increase was not certified by the Student Election Commission. The referendum proposed a $12 student fee increase for revamped routes and extended late night bus service.

Mike Wilson, chairman of the commission, explained that the decision to not certify the referendum was based primarily around the fact that the commission didn’t think the question was clear. Wilson said the commission was unsure if the students who voted for the referendum really knew what they were voting for.

He also said that students were split on the issue since the vote was so close. That’s true – the vote was close, with less than 1 percent students voting for the referendum than against it. But the argument that the student body is split on the referendum doesn’t take into account that a little more than 6,000 students ended up voting, which is equivalent to only 15 percent of the entire student body. To say that students are split on the issue is a fallacy.

The small number of students who voted cannot account as a representational number of the entire student body. But if it were, then the benefit of the doubt that the students knew what they were voting for when they clicked ‘yes’ should be automatically given.

While we recognize that the question might have been awkwardly worded, the commission’s decision not to certify the MTD referendum result is a disappointment. Certification carries a heavy weight when the discussion is brought up at the Board of Trustees meeting, where the proposition ultimately either passes or dies. For the trustees to hear that the students voted on the issue and a majority of those who voted supported it actually means something to them.

Now though, we can now only hope that when the discussion comes up at the Board of Trustees meeting, this proposal will pass. It will greatly benefit the students for only a $3 increase. The referendum does not call for a $12 increase as the question states, because regardless of whether the referendum passes, the fee will increase by $9 automatically because of rising costs with the current system. What that means is that if the referendum doesn’t pass, the students will end up paying a $9 increase but won’t be receiving any additional service. And if the referendum does pass, we’ll end up paying a $12 increase for increased late night service, more trips to downtown Champaign, and bus-riding time would be cut due to the four proposed routes which would extend to opposite sides of campus.

The Student Election Commission acted rashly in its non-approval of the MTD referendum. Now we are left to hope that the Board of Trustees will see the benefits of the fee increase and, ultimately, get us there.