JDUC revitalization student fee fails at AMS Special Referendum, passes at SGPS level

51.1 per cent of undergraduate students vote ‘no,’ 20.8 per cent voter turnout

Preliminary designs for the purposed JDUC revitalization.
Preliminary designs for the purposed JDUC revitalization.

Last Updated: 10:42 AM.

After a year of consulting students and a week-long campaign, the AMS and SGPS have to go back to the drawing board to find another way to secure student support for the proposed JDUC revitalization project.

In a special referendum from Feb. 12-13., the AMS asked “Do you agree to the establishment of a mandatory, non-reviewable $89 fee to support the redevelopment of the John Deutsch University Centre, to be collected annually commencing in the 2019-2020 academic year?”

Students who voted ‘no’ totaled to 1,823 (51.1 per cent) in comparison to the 1,746 (48.9 per cent) who voted ‘yes’. There were 155 students who chose to abstain from voting. Voter turnout was 20.8 per cent.

Following the vote, AMS President Jennifer Li said in a statement, “[w]e are obviously disappointed that we were unable to secure a student contribution to the JDUC Redevelopment project at this time.

“As this is a tiny margin, my team will take the next few months to understand why undergraduate students voted the way they did. After going through this process we will determine a way forward in consultation with the University,” she continued.

Things were a bit different at the SGPS level. With their vote based on a $40 fee compared to the undergraduate fee of $89, graduate students voted overwhelmingly in favour of the project.

With a 33.7 per cent voter turnout, 1,065 graduate students (77.3 per cent) voted ‘yes’ while 312 (22.7 per cent) voted ‘no’.

The proposed $62.3-million capital project would have secured 8,800 square feet of new study space and 3,200 square feet of new club space. It would have created four times more space than what currently exists in the JDUC.

On Wednesday morning, SGPS President Adam Grotsky released a statement about what the graduate society will do going forward.

“The collection of the SGPS fee is contingent on the University’s capital contribution and project financing, as stated in the referendum question,” he said. “Therefore, the SGPS will not collect this fee from students unless there is a path forward that retains the University’s contributions.”

“The SGPS is committed to working together with the AMS and University to determine how to proceed,” he continued.

Despite not collecting the fee, Grotsky said the result shouldn’t be ignored.

“Our campaign for JDUC redevelopment was fuelled by the need for graduate student community – and a space that will foster it,” he said.

“Students spoke loud and the results are clear: graduate students need graduate space to strengthen the graduate experience. I look forward to working with the University to ensure that is made a reality.”

The Journal will update this story as more information becomes available. 

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