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Possibility of bus passes next semester to be decided by student vote

At a Town Hall Meeting held on Wednesday, ASMC representatives said that students, after registering for classes, will be able to vote for, or against, Mills getting bus passes next fall.

Students can vote by clicking on a link after completing online registration, according to Assistant Dean of Student Services Toni Blackwell. The survey would be set up so that students could only participate once.

Undergraduate freshwomen, sophomores and juniors will be eligible to vote. Seniors will not be included because they would not be effected by the passes next year.

ASMC and Dean of Students Joi Lewis held the meeting to talk about how bus passes would work and the student vote.

If bus passes are passed, each student would have a Translink card with their Mills “Easy Pass” loaded onto it.

Money for other transportation including, San Francisco Muni could be loaded on to the Translink card for further convenience.

The Translink card would also track the use of AC Transit by Mills students for the test year in order to determine if the passes are successful enough to continue offering them.

ASMC Sustainability Senator Katie Johnson has been campaigning for student bus passes all year. At the meeting she reiterated the positive aspects of student bus passes.

“It is an attempt to make sustainable lifestyles easier for students,” said Johnson

Rocky Fernandez, the AC Transit Board President, attended the meeting to give an overview of what the passes would look like, how they would be used, and the overall benefits of student bus passes.

Fernandez attended UC Berkeley when they had a referendum to obtain the Cal “Class Pass” for students.

Fernandez drove and rarely took the bus until he got a “Class Pass.”

“We know that the more passes you get into peoples hands, the more people will use public transit,” he said, noting that it is easier to travel all over the Bay Area with a student bus pass.

Fernandez noted Mills’ persistence in the matter. “Mills has been more aggressive than any of the other schools in the area,” he said.

Johnson also pointed out that the bus passes would be good for an entire year, from the fall semester in August through the following summer.

This length of time can be helpful to students who use the bus when the College is not in session.

“I spend so much money on AC Transit in the summer because that is how I travel,” said junior Nina Wread. “So that would make a huge difference to me.”

Other students were interested in the wider access to the Oakland community.

Cecilia Aguilera said leadership opportunities would increase if there were a better connection to the community.

“It would be easier for us to go out and get internships, do tutoring and things like that,” said Aguilera.

Barb Haber, Vice President of Campus Planning, said the bus passes require 100 percent participation, meaning every undergraduate enrolled in courses would have an AC Transit Bus pass whether they used the pass or not.

Haber related the matter to the Three Musketeers quote, “all for one and one for all,” saying, “whether you use it or not, it will help your sisters.”

This was an issue for students who do not intend to use the pass. However, no students in disagreement attended the meeting.