By Maggie Macintosh
Dozens of RU-Pass signs advertise the wrong end date of the voting period for the transit pass referendum.
Full-time Ryerson University students can vote for or against implementing a discounted TTC pass through the my.ryerson portal between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1—contrary to signs created by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) that promote Nov. 2 as the last day to vote.
If the referendum passes, all full-time students will have to pay an additional $70 per month for the transit pass, a sum that will be added to their student fees starting in September 2019. The pass, which will amount to $282 total per semester, including a university administration fee, will allow students to take an unlimited number of TTC rides on the subway, streetcar and bus.
Leading up to the referendum the university’s Board Secretariat sent four mass emails to students that state the last day to vote is on Nov. 1 at 4:30 p.m. A university spokesperson also confirmed that time.
When The Eye contacted two RSU executives about their signs, they said the last day to vote is Nov. 1. Some of their posters and lawn signs across campus—and in the Dundas subway station—state Nov. 2.
Edmund Sofo, RSU vice-president student life and events, said he doesn’t know how the mix-up happened. “These things happen,” he said, while taking a break from handing out cards that advertise the correct referendum date to students in the lobby of the Student Learning Centre on Oct. 29.
Sofo said he’s going to sit down with the executive team to figure out how the mistake was made and decide what action to take to clear up the confusion.
“We’re going to have to see what we can do, [fix them] with Sharpie markers, I don’t know. As of right now, there are so many options we can take,” he said.
For now, Sofo said students should focus on the message of their posters rather than the dates on them.
“That’s a definite mess-up,” said Nathanael More, a fourth-year graphic communications management student, when asked about his thoughts on the RSU’s false ads.
More said he thinks the RSU should figure out a way to extend the voting period so it’s in line with their advertisements. That way students won’t think they have more time to vote than they do and miss the referendum, he said.
Sofo said he doesn’t know if the RSU has the power to extend the referendum to Nov. 2 to match their signage.
The confusion comes on the heels of controversy over the RSU misleading students about their ability to opt-out of the RU-Pass.
The RSU made a post on Instagram last week that stated, “You can opt out” in capital letters.
The university’s Registrar’s Office would collect fees and assess opt-out requests on a case-by-case basis if the referendum passes. “An opt-out provision will be available to any student whose personal circumstances [or] needs relate to a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code, which restricts their ability to utilize transit,” university spokesperson Elise Cotter said in a statement.
After students started posting on social media about the RSU’s misleading opt-out post, the RSU issued a statement on Facebook.
“We understand that the vagueness behind the current criteria for the opt-out has caused some confusion,” the statement reads. “Ryerson University has the final say over the opt-out process. If the referendum is successful, we will lobby the university and the TTC to make the procedure for an opt-out clearer and simpler.”