Results in for fall referendum

Students voted Tuesday and Wednesday in the fall referendum.
Students voted Tuesday and Wednesday in the fall referendum.

With a voter turnout of 19 per cent, nine of the 12 questions on the fall referendum ballot were approved during the voting period on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Union Gallery, which ran a question asking for a mandatory fee increase from $1.50 to $1.75, received 54.996 per cent yes votes, just shy of the required 55 per cent to pass at that level of voter turnout.

This close difference means a mandatory recount will occur for the question. Results will be known on Monday.

“[The question] hasn’t actually failed at the moment, even though the numbers show it had failed,” said Sarah Cressetti, AMS chief returning officer. “What it [says in AMS elections] policy [is] that we automatically have to conduct a recount if the margin for acceptance or rejection is less than one per cent of the total votes cast.”

The Union Gallery, which opened in Stauffer Library in 1994, is the University’s only student-run art gallery and provides a venue for students to show their work. Vanessa Nicholas, student president of the Union Gallery board, said she was disappointed by the referendum results.

“It is disheartening that there was not more enthusiasm and support shown for the gallery during the [referendum],” she said. “We hope for the best in regards to the recount.”

Nicholas added she is frustrated by the slim margin by which the question failed to pass, and is not sure if the Union Gallery currently has any other funding.

“It was definitely a blow, it was very frustrating,” she said. “Four more people I could have said ‘Hey have you voted today’ [to have the fee pass].”

Cressetti said a similar situation occurred with CFRC last year when they put a question for the creation of a mandatory fee of $3.75 on the ballot.

“CFRC had to do the same thing,” she said. “They were within one per cent of [passing]. Before the recount they were failing, [but] after the recount they did manage to pass.”

Cressetti said AMS elections rules state that when voter turnout is less than 20 per cent, a question must receive at least 55 per cent in favour to pass.

“Ideally, we would have liked to have 20 per cent [turnout],” she said. “We were so close. If we had gotten 20 per cent of voter turnout each question would have only needed 50 per cent plus one percent [to pass]. [The turnout] just makes it a little bit more difficult for questions to be successful.”

Fee questions posed by the SAE Mini Baja Design Team and the AMS Guide to Queen’s also failed.

Michael Schmidt, Sci ’07 and a member of the SAE Mini Baja Design Team, which designs, manufactures and races off-road vehicles, said he is disappointed about the loss of their opt-outable fee.

“It’s disappointing—we were hoping for it to pass. The money would definitely have helped the team,” he said.

AMS Communications Officer Renee Lung said that as the office responsible for the Guide to Queen’s she is still mentally processing the results. She said she’s not sure what the future of the Guide will be, since its mandatory $0.80 fee was not renewed.

“Speaking as a representative of the AMS and as the communications officer—and the communication office is responsible for Guide to Queen’s—we need to re-evaluate how we are approaching the resource [and] creating comprehensive resources for students. That is what the Guide to Queen’s is about,” she said. “I would be reluctant to say what exactly direction we would take this in next year. We still need to hammer out something concrete.”

Cressetti said that any group who lost their fee cannot campaign again this school year as is stipulated by AMS policy.

“Their next opportunity to get their fee back would be next year,” she said. “They can run a campaign in next year’s fall or winter referendum.”

Dawn House Women’s Shelter, which serves women and children in the Kingston community, had their mandatory $0.50 fee renewed with 89 per cent in favour.

Rosemary Mason, chair of the board of directors at Dawn House, said she is pleased with the result but not surprised, because of the support the shelter gets from the University and the Kingston community.

“We appreciate Queen’s student support,” she said. “Thank you from us [at Dawn House]—we are very, very appreciative.”

Aaron Sousa, director of Queen’s First Aid, said that they were also very happy to have their mandatory fee increased from $2.00 to $2.50.

“We are really excited it passed,” he said, “not only because it allows us to provide services at the level we have been for the last 20 years, [but also] that we take it as a show of support for what we have been doing.”

Alvin Tedjo, ArtSci ’06, said he is excited about the creation of the $3.00 one time opt-outable fee for Tri-Aid, which will donate the money for tsunami, hurricane and earthquake relief. He said it shows that students care about the cause.

“I was ecstatic, I was really happy students decided to take an interest in helping out and contributing to the rest of the world effort,” he said. “They can make a big difference, because a lot of these things will be forgotten in a lot of people’s minds, and it will be a good influx of money for those causes.”

Students also voted to approve the continuation of the fees for STRIVE, Accessibility Queen’s, Queen’s International Affairs Association, and Queen’s Legal Aid, as well as to increase the mandatory fees for the Campus Observation Room and the Journal.

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