Camosun College students have to pay for a U-Pass, even if they attend only online courses. (Black Press Media file photo)

Camosun students still charged for U-Pass during COVID-19

Many students attending only online courses unable to opt out of program

Camosun College students will pay for a U-Pass this semester, even if all of their courses have been moved online in response to COVID-19.

Full-time student Kathleen Sparks wanted answers when she was told she couldn’t opt out of the $80-per semester transit pass, even though she was doing all of her courses from home.

“It’s not the end of the world but it’s a hard time for a lot of students,” she said. “It’s annoying to say the least.”

But Camosun College explained that it has never allowed online students to opt out of the U-Pass, even before COVID-19 restricted in-person classes.

“We have never had an opt-out option for online or distance education students,” said Michel Turcotte, executive director of the Camosun College Student Society. “The only difference is this year we have a lot more.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Masks now mandatory on public transit, ferries in B.C.

Turcotte notes that many students use the pass to get around the community – not just to get to school.

“It would be difficult to change all the procedures based on the pandemic,” he added. “There have been no changes in Camosun College fees or student society fees.”

UVic, he notes, allowed online students to opt out of the pass in pre COVID-19 times.

The money isn’t make or break, Sparks said. But it’s the principle of the fee that she doesn’t like, especially when the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University have nixed their U-Pass fees for the semester.

At UVic, only students with at least one on-campus course are charged the fee and all others can opt-in online. Royal Roads students also have an opt-in fee, rather than an opt-out option.

But for Sparks, taking a bus pass is a moot point in a COVID-19 world. The transfer student says it seems irresponsible to take the bus when she doesn’t have to.

“They shouldn’t be encouraging us to take the bus,” she noted. “I’ve paid the fee because tuition was due a week or so ago. I kind of just gave it up.”

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria bus ridership down 75 per cent amid pandemic


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