SGPS to re-vote on Bus-It fee in March

Non-ratification of SGPS Bus-It fee nullified by SGPS Council

Journal file photo

After failing to vote in favour of renewing the Bus-It student fee, students in the Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) will have a second chance to renew the fee. 

At Tuesday’s SGPS Council meeting, members voted to nullify the results. 

If the results weren’t nullified, SGPS students would’ve had to pay $912 a year for access to Kingston public transit rather than the current fee of $90. 

The wording of the original ballot question, which read, “Do you agree to an increase in the Bus-It (Kingston Transit Student Pass) mandatory student fee from $68.30 to $90.00, an increase of $21.70?” led many students in the society to believe that voting “No” would result in the fee remaining the same, rather than becoming nonexistent.  

The ballot results were released on Feb. 1 and saw 51 per cent vote against renewal.

SGPS President Adam Grotsky said in a Feb. 1 statement that he believed “a significant number of students fundamentally misunderstood the referendum question that was posed to them.”

At SGPS Council on Feb. 13, students confirmed their confusion regarding the wording of the Bus-It question on the ballot. 

“Students came out in droves to speak about how the bus impacts them and how they just didn’t get the wording,” Grostky said in an interview with The Journal.  

As a result, council voted to nullify referendum results. The Bus-It fee will now be on a second ballot to take place in March. 

The nullification decision was further propelled by a student fee policy change that was approved at the meeting. Due to the SGPS traditionally seeing a lack of voter turnout during elections, the society uses a supermajority policy regarding referenda. 

The supermajority requires two-thirds of the vote be in favour of the referendum in order for it to pass. Their reasoning behind this is to mitigate the potential ramifications of a minimally representative number of students voting on policy that would affect  the entire SGPS body. 

Going forward, referenda will now require a simple majority of 50 plus one per cent. If the fee in question is a mandatory fee, the simple majority will stand so long as voter turnout meets a quorum of at least 15 per cent. 

The change in referendum policy will take effect immediately as opposed to the next fiscal year. The second referendum vote will take place in order to accommodate this.

The Bus-It ballot question will be reworded to read, “Do you agree to continuation of the Bus-It (Kingston Transit Student Pass) mandatory student fee for $90.00? The student fee has been increased from $68.30 to $90.00, an increase of $21.70. Failure for this question to pass the referendum will result in the loss of the unlimited student bus pass for Queen’s Graduate & Professional students.” 

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