Students didn’t show up for their clubs this referendum season.
Of the 32 clubs and organizations who submitted applications to be on the fall referendum ballot, only 11 succeeded in changing or maintaining their fee over Nov. 2 and 3. Clubs and organizations hoping to establish, continue, or adjust their student fee, must participate in the AMS fee referendum process.
The referendum saw a 10 per cent voter turnout, with clubs requiring 60 per cent of voters to vote “yes” for their fee to pass. Some organizations with long-standing fees lost out, and only three new optional fees were established.
“The goal is not to make the process overly difficult or complicated for clubs, but rather to protect student money and ensure that is being put towards deserving causes and groups that have the capacity to effect positive impacts on the Queen’s Community,” said Calder Bryson, the AMS chief electoral officer (CEO), in a statement to The Journal.
The Ban Righ Mature Student Bursary, which has existed at Queen’s since 1992, failed to garner enough votes for its continuation.
A fee which supported the Queen’s chapter of the Oxfam charity, established in 2013, also failed. Both initiatives will lose their student fee funding for the next academic year.
Every three years, fees for clubs, organizations, and grants undergo triennial review for the fees’ continuation on the AMS undergraduate fee slate. To support the service next year, the Campus Observation Room (COR) sought a 15-cent fee increase.
“It needed 60 per cent approval to pass, but it received 54 per cent support. This is disappointing, given the importance of this service, but it will not affect COR this academic year,” Beth Blackett, health promotion coordinator at student wellness services, said in a statement to The Journal.
Though COR was unable to increase its fee this term, the continuation of its current 85 cent fee will be on next term’s ballot in February.
Fees on the AMS slate can be mandatory for undergraduate students or optional, allowing students to opt-out. Of the seven optional fees seeking establishment, only three passed at referendum. The Queen’s Black Clubs Caucus had the highest voter approval for the establishment of their $1.10 fee.
“These fees will make a massive contribution to the Black community while strengthening the diversity of the Queen’s community as a whole,” Queen’s Black Clubs Caucus said in a statement to The Journal.
To make it onto the AMS referendum, student clubs and services submit an application to the AMS CEO which includes a statement about their group and a proposed budget. The AMS Student Activity Fee Review Committee assesses the application to ensure it reflects a need for student funding and will benefit the student community.
Approved submissions must collect signatures from one per cent of the undergraduate student body, or this year, 204 signatures.
“This barrier is put in place to ensure the establishment or increase of a fee reflects the wishes of students,” Bryson said.
After signature collection, fees which are proposed to be established or increased are motioned at AMS Assembly, where they are either approved or denied a spot on the referendum ballot. Fees undergoing triennial review don’t need to be motioned.
This year, all fees brought before Assembly were approved unanimously. After this point a campaign period is allotted, where students then vote.
The AMS has routinely struggled with low voter turnout, and though unsurprised by this year’s numbers, Bryson hopes students will be more engaged in the future.
“The Internal Affairs office is working on promotional collaborations with Common Ground Coffeehouse (CoGro) and Good Times Diner for the upcoming election,” Bryson said.
Twenty-two clubs and organizations made it on the ballot this term. Queen’s Space Engineering, Project Red Queen’s, the Dawn House Women’s Shelter, Queen’s Asian Student’s Association, Unicef Queen’s, QU Formula SAE Team, Queen’s Global Medical Brigades and the Helen Tufts Child Outreach program all passed triennial review and maintained their student fee for next year.
QWave, Queen’s Oxfam, Queen’s Enactus, QU Minecraft Club and Reelout Arts Project didn’t succeed on the ballot. Failing to establish a fee were Queen’s Kaleidoscope, On The Same Page Queen’s, Queen’s Capital, and Queen’s Hellenic Student Association. Passing fees included Smith Black Business Association, the Clubs Commission Clubs Grant, and the Queen’s Black Clubs Caucus.
The winter ballot will have fees for the Sexual Health Resource Center open to change, and Bryson hopes students will show their support by voting.
“Voting is an incredibly important way of having your voice heard on campus and it’s unfortunate that more students aren’t currently taking advantage of this opportunity,” Bryson said.
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