MUSE fee proposal fails in winter referendum

Voter turnout was 34.6 per cent, up from 33 per cent in 2014; five of six opt-out fee proposals pass

The AMS 2015 winter referendum, which took place alongside elections on Tuesday and Wednesday, saw a voter turnout of 34.6 per cent, up from 33 per cent in 2014.

The referendum included six opt-out fees — an increase for Engineers Without Borders; new fees for the Queen’s Diabetic Society, MUSE Magazine, the Queen’s Sustainability Conference and Talking about Mental Illness; and the continuation of the HIV/AIDS Regional Services fee.

Only the MUSE fee was unsuccessful. MUSE lost its opt-out fee of $0.50 in the fall 2013 referendum. 54 per cent of students voted in favour of continuing the fee, but MUSE had required a 55 per cent yes vote in order to obtain a fee that year due to low voter turnout.

This year, 49.1 per cent of voters came out in favour of the fee.

Jaclyn Marcus, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, spoke to the Journal via Facebook on behalf of MUSE’s directors.

“Without our opt-out fees there is no doubt that the next few months will prove extremely challenging, but we have full faith that our team will pull through to create an even stronger campaign next year,” she said.

“The MUSE Magazine team remains completely committed to its mandate to showcase the incredible creative student talent Queen’s University has to offer.”

AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs Claire Cathro said it was hard to know why the referendum turnout went up despite the lack of an AMS executive election.

“The ease of using the new voting system I think is a big factor, because you have all of the faculty society elections that are in one place, it’s one link that everybody’s pushing, and it’s easy for everybody to log in with their NetID rather than having to worry about copy and pasting a unique username and a unique password,” she said.

“We can send email blasts out to people that haven’t voted yet as a reminder — and it’s interesting, after we do that, we do see a huge spike in people voting.”

The AMS switched to a new voting software, Simply Voting, for the fall 2014 referendum. That referendum saw the highest fall voter turnout since 1995, at 34.1 per cent.

The software can track turnout in different faculties and years, allowing the elections team to focus their promotion efforts on certain types of students that vote least.

Cathro added that the elections team also worked to promote the referendum among students.

“The elections team did a significant amount of work to make sure that students knew about this, that the election and the referendum were happening,” she said.

“A lot of the success in having good voter turnout can be attributed to their hard work.”

Referendum results

Do you agree to an increase in the Engineers Without Borders fee (subject to individual opt-out) from $0.75 to $1.25, an increase of $0.50?

66.4 per cent yes, 33.6 per cent no, 876 abstentions.

Do you agree to the establishment of $0.08 fee (subject to individual opt-out) to support the Queen’s Diabetic Society?

78.5 per cent yes, 21.5 per cent no, 620 abstentions.

Do you agree to the establishment of a $0.50 fee (subject to individual opt-out) to support MUSE Magazine?

49.1 per cent yes, 50.9 per cent no, 803 abstentions.

Do you agree to the establishment of a $0.59 fee (subject to individual opt-out) to support the Queen’s Sustainability Conference?

72.1 per cent yes, 27.9 per cent no, 726 abstentions.

Do you agree to the establishment of $0.35 fee (subject to individual opt-out) to support Talking About Mental Illness (TAMI)?

85.8 per cent yes, 14.2 per cent no, 431 abstentions.

Do you agree to the continuation of the HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS) fee of $0.75 (subject to individual opt-out) for the next three years?

84.3 per cent yes, 15.7 per cent no, 609 abstentions.

Do you agree to having the AMS assess the feasibility of divestment from fossil fuels for its Restricted Funds portfolio and the Queen’s University Pooled Endowment Fund?

73.5 per cent yes, 26.5 per cent no.

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