April 16, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Keep the Free TCAT Passes

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To the Editor:

Re: “Cornell Considers Cutting Free TCAT Bus Passes,” News, March 26

The University Assembly’s recently introduced a measure to cut free bus passes is another blow to the student body. This came on the heels of a nearly $2,000 tuition increase.  Despite ever-increased spending on administrative fees and satellite campuses, students in Ithaca continue to receive worse student services for less money.

The bus passes for first year students are an important way to help new students assimilate to campus and Ithaca. Taking the bus to Target or Collegetown is an important part of the new student experience, and allows students to feel comfortable in their new surroundings without any added expense.

Indeed, charging students for taking the bus will further stratify the gap between rich and poor students on campus. People unwilling to spend the additional money to take the bus will remain confined to campus, unable to explore their new community or become involved in off-campus activities. Off-campus community service events will become inaccessible for budget-minded students. Even working for this paper will become an expensive privilege, as The Sun’s offices in the commons is too out of the way for most freshmen without taking the bus.

Bus passes and the ability to travel around campuses are standard at most of Cornell’s peer institutions.  Every other Ivy League school have some sort of free public transportation for students, despite Cornell having the largest campus. Even urban school like Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania offer students free access to local public transportation.

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit’s financial issues are certainly pressing, but is cutting ever more student services the only way for Cornell to pay off its debt to the local government? Students already have to pay for gym passes, as well as ever-increasing rent. Cornell should prioritize services for students and preserve free bus passes for its students.

Timothy McGraw ’16

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