U must push for compromise

On strike day six, that no talks are scheduled is unacceptable.

University officials and students must do more to pressure a compromise between the Metropolitan Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005. The University is one of the four largest destinations for bus riders – 14,000 students hold U-Passes and 1,500 faculty and staff members have Metropasses. The strike poses a huge burden for the University community, but students and officials have yet to send a clear message of dissatisfaction.

Tuesday is the sixth day of the strike, but so far the two parties have not scheduled new talks. This is unacceptable. The front page of the University’s Web site does not even mention the strike – leaving us to wonder if University officials understand its impact in the community. Many students are paying for alternate transportation out of their savings – money better used to pay for books, food, health care and tuition. The average undergraduate student will graduate with $22,300 in debt, according to the 2002 National Student Loan Survey by the Nellie Mae Corporation. This debt is compounded by record tuition increases at the University.

Foreign students are particularly impacted by the strike but lack the political sway and media soapbox with which to communicate their experience. A major metropolitan university, aimed to attract the best minds from around the globe, must support subsidized and comprehensive public transportation. The University is not served by subways, light rail or train, and therefore, the impetus to act quickly is even greater.

The no-compromise position of the Met Council presents a losing situation for the University community. In addition, the health-care benefits and salaries of the transit union must be considered in light of the grave inconveniences caused by the strike. The lifestyle of students and vitality of the Twin Cities as it relates to the University must become more prominent issues in alleviating the strike.

If University officials and students do not make their views known, a dangerous precedent will be set. The parties involved must compromise and recognize this community cannot withstand the extended inaccessibility of public transit.