Editorial Board: Vote yes on the WMATA referendum

This week, students will be able to express their interest in discounted Metro passes in a referendum.

The University is currently negotiating with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to provide students with passes that would allow them unlimited access to the Metro system for just $250 per year. Last month, the Student Association sent out a survey to gauge student interest in the idea. And now, the SA is asking students to vote on whether or not they want GW to continue these negotiations.

These discounted Metro passes would undoubtedly benefit students who use public transportation often: Currently, unlimited Metro passes cost more than $230 for one month, meaning these passes would be a massive discount. Because of these potential financial benefits, students should vote yes on the SA’s referendum this week to encourage the University to continue these negotiations with WMATA.

Through this program, GW would add the $250 fee on to students’ tuition. But this fee shouldn’t be a mandatory addition to GW’s cost of attendance, and instead, students should have the opportunity to opt out. Unfortunately, whether or not the fee would be mandatory has yet to be determined.

When continuing these negotiations, it’s essential that the SA make the ability to opt out of buying a Metro pass its main priority. If this is at all possible, then we would hope that the University would sign on to this program. But if WMATA insists on making these passes mandatory for all students, the SA needs to push back – unless a majority of students still expressed interest in the passes through the survey.

Affordability on campus is something that student leaders clearly care about, since three of the four candidates for the SA’s executive positions mention affordability in their platforms. We hope that student leaders would recognize the importance of allowing students to opt out. Not everyone uses the Metro regularly enough for the unlimited pass to be financially beneficial, and student leaders should fight for those students’ right to avoid paying yet another fee.

For others, an unlimited Metro pass could be a huge asset. It would make a substantial dent in some students’ cost of living – especially those who commute to internships several days a week.

GW wouldn’t be the only school in D.C. trying this program since students at American University have voted on a similar idea, which has also been successful in other cities. And it would give students more opportunities to explore the District. Resident advisers, for example, could plan more activities in the city for their residents because they’d know that those students have equal access to public transportation.

Of course, there’s still a lot left to be worked out, but it’s important to continue these conversations. While the program’s details might not be perfect, there are many things we don’t have the answers to, and we need them.

This discounted Metro pass could be very helpful to GW students, and allowing the SA to continue negotiations with GW and WMATA can only benefit us.

Vote yes on the WMATA referendum Wednesday or Thursday.

The Hatchet’s editorial board for endorsements included opinions editor Sarah Blugis, contributing opinions editor Melissa Holzberg, sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Samantha LaFrance, copy editor Brandon Lee, assistant sports editor Mark Eisenhauer and managing director Eva Palmer.

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