Campuses can help pay for transit access pass program

    Each community college in the Los Angeles Community College District now has the option to subsidize the cost of the Institutional Transit Access Pass (ITAP) program for its students.

    “[The district] wants to continue the program, and this is the only way,” said Daniel Axelrod, Associated Students Organization (ASO) president at Pierce College.

    Due to the lack of funds allocated to the ITAP program, talk of discontinuing the program altogether has been circulating among LACCD officials since last semester, according to Axelrod.

    However, it was only recently that the district has decided to make the subsidization option available.

    The alternative to canceling the program would require students, regardless of whether or not they use the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to pay a fee between $20 and $25.

    Those who take the Metro would have to pay for both the program and the card itself.

    The student body of each of the nine LACCD campuses will decide, through a referendum, whether they wish to subsidize the cost of the ITAP program.

    According to Axelrod, during last month’s Student Affairs Committee meeting, the nine student government presidents were informed of the possibility to set up campus-wide elections to determine whether the option of student subsidization will be implemented in their schools.

    “They wanted us to have it the same day as the ASO [executive board] elections,” said Axelrod.

    He added that the referendum wasn’t required of every community college. It is up to the student governments to decide whether or not to have them.

    According to Brad Saenz, ASO faculty advisor, the individual student governments are expected to set up, as well as fund the elections.

    “It doesn’t look like the district is giving money for it,” Saenz said. “I don’t think ASO should be funding the elections, since this is a district issue.”

    Though Axelrod agrees with the idea of holding elections to determine the fate of the ITAP program, he doesn’t think it’s prudent to hold one before this semester ends.

    “If the election was to happen this semester, only the students who take the Metro are going to be knowledgeable about the situation,” Axelrod said. “The voting results might not really reflect what’s actually happening around the campus because only one population of the student body is going to be voting.”

    ASO senator Gabriel Mellibosky, the president elect for the fall 2011 and spring 2012 semesters, agrees with him.

    “We need to educate all the students about it before we take a vote,” he said.

    For that reason, the referendum is being put off until next semester, under the leadership of Mellibosky.

    The election will most likely be at the beginning of next semester, according to Mellibosky.

    Mellibosky plans to focus on getting the student population more informed on the issue.

    “We might have people going around classes to inform the students,” he said. “We might also speak directly to the professors so that they can get the word out to their students.”

    If the election results in a majority-vote favoring subsidization, the ITAP program will most likely resume that same semester, according to Mellibosky.

    There is, however, a low percentage of Pierce students who commute through MTA, and this will most likely hinder the passage of the subsidization option.

    “I’ve heard more no’s than yes’s, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to pass,” said Mellibosky. “There just aren’t that many students who take the Metro.”

    Mellibosky describes the situation as a difficult one.

    “What’s for sure is that either way we lose,” he said. “We’re either hurting [the students who take the Metro] by taking the program out, or we’re hurting the entire student body by keeping it and making everyone pay for it.”