The results of the referenda questions determining the future of QPIRG-McGill and campus radio station CKUT were announced last Thursday evening. Both organizations won an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in favour of renewal of their student fees, and a move from online to in-person opt-outs.
According to Elections McGill, 5,245 students – amounting to 24.7 per cent of the student body – voted in the referendum. Of the voters, 72.3 per cent voted ‘yes’ for CKUT. 65.6 per cent of voters, voted ‘yes’ for QPIRG.
CKUT and QPIRG face existence referendums every five years. These results mean that student funding for both organizations will be renewed. They also mean both organizations can begin renegotiating their Memoranda of Agreement with the University.
Adam Wheeler, co-chair of the QPIRG ‘yes’ committee, explained that, “We’re so elated…with the turnout, which is incredible, especially for the fall referendum period.”
“It shows that students value the work that our organization does on campus in terms of providing programming, resources, and linking campus community,” he continued.
Rebecca Dooley, co-chair of the CKUT ‘yes’ committee and a news intern at the radio station, described the positive support of the student community. “I’m not that surprised, I’m just really excited. The last ten days have been an outpouring of support from student groups and students,” she said.
For many members of QPIRG and CKUT, the results are a relief, and proof of recognition of their work.
Anna Malla, internal coordinator for QPIRG, said, “It feels like validation for all that we thought was true and all the work that we’ve been doing for so long.”
A main component of the referendum, in addition to the renewal of funding, was the changing of the student opt-out system from online to in-person, giving the organizations more control over their refund systems.
The opt-out system was conducted in-person until 2007, when the administration moved the system online.
“I think [the results] show that students are saying to McGill administration, ‘Enough is enough, we actually want control of our own organizations and services,’” Malla said.
According to Malla, “We put this question forward because we felt that the current opt-out system as it is doesn’t give students the information to find out about these services.”
However, in the November 7 issue of The Daily, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson wrote in an email that a lack of clarity in a referendum question could lead to it not being implemented.
“Frankly, I find [it] to be put in a convoluted, confusing way,” he wrote. “When questions cannot be implemented because they are not clear, they aren’t implemented.”
SSMU VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser said, “These organizations are obviously thriving, and students care about them. They’re not going away.”
Jeremy Singer, a U2 International Management student, just started working at CKUT this year. “I’m psyched that [CKUT] will [continue to exist], because I’m excited to keep working there,” he said.
Dooley also expressed her hope for the future of CKUT and QPIRG. “This is what I want to see every five years – students supporting student life.”
Neither Mendelson nor Elections McGill CEO Rebecca Tacoma could be reach for comment at press time.