By Dariel Chaidez North Park University is Christian, urban, and multicultural. Ingrained into the lives of NPU students is this three-part sentiment that is the basis of what it means to be a student in the city of Chicago. As a student, one has specific mindset and set of goals to accomplish. For some that may be only to finish their major and achieve their degree. For others it may be to leave the house and start their adult lives. But for all, college is the time to expand the horizon. It’s a time to explore, experience, and leave one’s comfort zone in order to gain a well rounded perspective on life. This goal is not only helpful, but noble in the fact that it relates to every aspect of life. When we experience the world, we grow as people.
North Park University actively encourages its students to get out and explore the city and use Chicago as a classroom. While doing so might sound simple, there are many complications in doing so, the main one being the lack of a U-Pass system at North Park. U-pass is an extremely helpful and fairly easy way to get out and explore. With U-Pass, university students are given unlimited access to all CTA transportation methods, including buses and trains. U-Pass works the same way as the Ventra card, except for the fact that students do not have to load fare on their cards during school session. Over 40 higher education institutions in Chicago, such as UIC and Loyola, are already participating in the U-Pass system with many benefits to the students who use them regularly. With it, they are able to easily explore Chicago through public transportation.
While the U-Pass system in general may be flawless in theory, an important concept to factor in is the price of the card itself and why NPU has not already participated in the system. If North Park were to introduce the Upass system, it would tack on an extra $150 to tuition. For some this would be a cheap alternative to purchasing daily rides, but for others it may not be of any use in getting to school.
Though tuition will increase slightly, it is imperative to measure the benefits. In theory, students with a U-Pass will be much more inclined to experience their surroundings and experience our world class city, thus actualizing North Park's emphasis on students making Chicago their classroom. This benefit is immeasurable in value as one cannot put a price on wisdom and understanding. If NPU was to introduce the U-Pass, it may accommodate students who won't need to use it by lowering the price for a parking sticker. Students who use public transportation everyday can end up paying upwards of $800 a year in train and bus fees, and drivers can pay that much and more depending on the unpredictability of gas prices and car maintenance. In the end, U-Pass may actually be of some service to all students in one way or another. We as a community must look to each other and evaluate the needs of all students in order to make a worthwhile decision.
In the case of North Park and the U-Pass, it is apparent that both positives and negatives are present, but it is also apparent that one might have the capacity to outweigh the other. U-Pass would keep true the school fundamentals and we could potentially have an environment with unparalleled perspective as a result from expanding our knowledge of Chicago, and more importantly the people in it. The decision is ours as a community and should be made as such.