Fighting for votes

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It’s just one click, but it can determine the future of many students on campus.

With the recent Fall Referendum results sealing the fate of Union Gallery, I question if groups are utilizing the referendum system most effectively.

The system as it stands now, although a unique aspect of Queen’s, leaves the future of any group who wants to renew or increase a mandatory or opt-outable fee largely in the hands of a small voting group.

Students and organizers need to realize that they have to proactively promote their groups and attain a more visible presence on campus.

Just last referendum, Union Gallery, a non-profit organization run in collaboration with arts professionals and students, lost its mandatory fee renewal by just 28 student votes.

With a referendum turnout of 26.33 per cent, it’s troublesome that such a small amount of votes can change the course of operational funds for the gallery.

Even with the option of taking the result to AMS Annual General Meeting, groups such as Union Gallery face limitations like having to wait until the next year to appeal, leaving them in financial uncertainty for the time being. The problem wasn’t that students weren’t aware of the existence of the Gallery, but rather they weren’t aware what the Gallery was about.

Groups need to realize that they can’t solely publish fee statements and promote renewals casually through a Facebook group leading up to referendum.

But students also need to realize that the power to vote for something like this is valuable to various institutions at Queen’s. And they can only do so by putting a face or a voice to the cause.

To prevent such instances from occurring, organizations like Union Gallery need to be proactive with their advertising. Just writing a statement and participating in inconsistent promotions here and there isn’t enough. We need to make our groups more visible.

We need to show students why we belong on campus. Show them that our groups are worth fighting for.

Labiba is one of the Editors in Chief at the Journal.

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