A REFERENDUM IS UPON US!

Next week from Wednesday until Friday polling stations will be set up around campus as the UVSS holds a referendum. Campaigning for the referendum began on Monday morning, although only ‘yes’ sides have been represented. This is one of the largest referendums in UVic history with 5 questions on the ballot, all asking but one asking for a fee increase, the one exception asking for a re-allocation of existing fees. If you’re informed on the questions, you can check here for polling station locations. If not, I’ll address the questions below the jump here.1. Do you support establishing a dedicated fee for the purpose of funding an independent UVSS elections office in the amount of $0.45 per part-time student per semester and $0.90 per full-time student per semester?

Director -at-Large Jenn Bowie is trumpeting this as the solution to the electoral dysfunction that has plagued the UVSS. Given last year’s debacle that included the questionable disqualification of Geoff Sharpe and Justin Bedi, Team Work, the establishment of an independent UVSS elections office is a step towards a fair election. In the past, an electoral committee was made up of sitting board members – often members whose slate had representatives running in that very election – who could overturn decisions made by the Chief Electoral Officer. Last year the CEO of the elections stepped down following his overturned decision to dismiss complaints filed against a slate. The committee was made up of rival slate members and their decision eventually led to the disqualification of both members of Team Work, who had both won seats on the board. Their seats were filled by losing candidates.

2. Do you support establishing a dedicated fee for the purpose of organizing special events for students on campus in the amount of $0.25 per part-time student per semester and $0.50 per full-time student per semester?

This question, endorsed by Director of Services and Hawaiian shirt aficionado Remy hall, seeks to fill the coffers of the special events committee. The relatively small increase would go towards events like the SUB party and a year-end, open-air concert at the stadium Hall is attempting to get off the ground. This is a relatively minor increase that would boost the relatively paltry $6600 Hall has available to him to bring exciting and fun events to campus.

3. At no cost to students, do you support reducing the Building and Capital fund by $4 per full-time student per semester and $2 per part-time student per semester and reallocating this amount to the UVSS Operations Fund?

Director of Finance guru and DKE Pledge Kelsey Hannan is the man with the plan behind this question. Currently, $13 of your $69.22 student fees go toward the Building and Capital fund. This money is earmarked for renovations and additions to the SUB. By transferring this money into the Operations Fund, this money can go toward getting the UVSS out of debt. This doesn’t cost you anything, and the fund will still take $9 from you to put toward future renovations. Maybe those Greeks are good for something.

4. Do you support a gradual increase of funding for the operations and services provided to students by the UVSS in the amount of 20¢ per part-time student and 40¢ per full-time student per semester each semester for the next three years?

UVSS Chairperson James Coccolla has thrown his support behind this relatively vague question. The question is worded to make the amount seem small, but within three years your UVSS fee (not counting any of these other referendum passing or future fee changes) will jump 20%. I understand that the UVSS is in financial trouble, but that number is very steep, and it seems that the board should fight to keep student fees affordable by fixing the problems in the SUB by streamlining (or de-federation from the CFS, but I’ll save that for another blog post), as opposed to making post-secondary education even more expensive. Also, the lack of a plan for this money is troubling. Will it go toward hiring another General Manager with questionable accounting practices? Will it go into the Director’s pockets in the form of a raise? I want to know how it will be used to help the students the board represents.

5. Do you support the establishment of a new student fee in the amount of 95¢ per semester for full-time students and 45¢ per semester for part-time students to be allocated to UVic Pride?

UVic Pride claims to be limited by funding, with its largest issue being space constraints. Pride’s argument for the establishment of a new fee to go towards renting a larger space is based on privacy and expansion of information. Pride reps claim that in the crowded space they occupy now, students with sensitive questions who wish for a certain degree of privacy are scared away by the often bustling room. Also, they wish to expand their queer-focused library. UVic Pride receives $0.50 per semester per full-time student (they split $60,250 between four constituency groups), as well as approximately $500 per semester from grad students.

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