CFRC fee increase fails, budgets $25K loss

AMS credits creative campaigning, dedicated clubs with high voter turnout

This year’s fall referendum was marked by one of the highest voter turnouts for a referendum without an accompanying executive or rector election in AMS history.

Over both voting days, 4,351 students—32.3 per cent of the undergraduate student population—cast their ballots on questions of fee raises and renewals and four plebiscite questions.

Chief Returning Officer Joanna Adams said she attributes the dramatic rise in voter turnout to a stronger promotional campaign than the Commission of Internal Affairs (CIA) ran in previous years.

She said keeping certain polling stations open later—several were open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.—and changing the locations of several stations improved turnout. Voting stations were added in Stirling and Ellis halls and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

“We just tried to make voting more accessible,” Adams said.

Eight of the nine questions relating to club fees passed, with CFRC falling about six per cent short of passing.

The radio station put forward a $2.75 increase, from $3.75 to $6.50.

Gillian Wheatley, AMS media services director, said she thought students didn’t understand how low the fee is compared to other campus radio stations.

“Comparatively, it was one of the larger fees [on the ballot] but when you compare it nationally, it still would have been the lowest in the country,” she said. She said the average fee at other schools is $10.

This is the second year the radio station is operating without a $48,000-grant from the University.

“CFRC is a new service for the AMS … so right now we’re looking at different ways to fund the station and the referendum was one of them,” Wheatley said. “It didn’t pass, so we’re going to be moving forward in other ways.” The AMS will be running a funding drive for the third year. Last year the drive raised $16,000.

The CFRC fee was not up for renewal. A policy change this year means that service fees will no longer have to be up for renewal. “It shouldn’t be a political decision, it should be a management one,” Wheatley said.

“This year it’s budgeted to lose around $25,000, and that’s just not sustainable in the long term and that’s why we need different funding,” Wheatley said.

Students voted no to plebiscite questions regarding the draft code of conduct asking if they agree with non-academic notations on transcripts and asking if they agree with including a clause in the code of conduct requiring students to report on other students’ infractions. Students also voted against cutting down the number of varsity sports run by the athletics department. Students voted in support of a non-Sodexho run creperie on campus.

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell said the AMS will present the information collected through the referendum at next Thursday’s senate meeting.

Mitchell said she hopes the meeting will result in both clauses addressed in the plebiscite being amended.

“A lot of students just want to see them removed,” she said. She said she was pleased the AMS’ commitment to OUSA was renewed.

She said it has yet to be determined what role the AMS will play in making the proposed creperie a reality, but she doubts any progress will be made until the new student centre in the Queen’s Centre opens.

“We haven’t had that conversation,” she said.

Zeina Nasrallah, Sci ’08, proposed the idea of the creperie to AMS assembly several weeks before the referendum. She said she has no concrete plan as of yet on how she will proceed.

Mitchell also attributed the higher voter turnout to efforts made by individual clubs promoting their questions. She said clubs gave hundreds of class talks in the weeks leading up to the vote.

“It’s those extra things that make a difference, that actually go a long way.”

Referendum proceedings were marred by an unsanctioned campaign against the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, said Connor Langford, AMS chief electoral officer.

Someone conducted a campaign against OUSA, distributing information cards across campus and throughout the Ghetto telling students to vote no to OUSA.

Langford said all referendum campaigns must register with the AMS and must follow election policies.

“Any violation of the AMS elections policy is considered a violation of the student Code of Conduct,” he said.

Langford said a complaint was filed to the CIA, and Adams will review the complaint and make a ruling this afternoon. The CIA will then decide whether to pass the complaint on to the Judicial Affairs Office.

The complainant didn’t know who was responsible for the campaign.

AMS Referendum Results (Per cent)

QuestionsYesNoSpoiledCFRC—increase from $3.75 to $6.50 (mandatory)43.2656.070.64Golden Words—increase from $1.50 to $2 (mandatory)69.8829.620.5Queen’s Debating Union—increase from $0.95 to $1.40 (opt-out)58.9540.460.59Queen’s TV—increase from $2.16 to $3 (opt-out)56.4342.620.71Global Citizens—continuation of $0.75 (opt-out)79.819.440.78Queen’s Bands—continuation of $3.50 (mandatory)78.5820.990.43Camp Outlook—continuation of $0.85 (opt-out)75.5623.251.19OUSA—continuation of $2.09 (mandatory)66.5132.491United Way—continuation of $2 (opt-out)84.8314.380.78

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