It's more than two years till another local election. We need a fix bad! Okay, so it turns out that the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph last week had their annual election cycle on various student led referendums, and to choose their representatives on various college boards and for the executive of the CSA itself. The unofficial results were released yesterday.
First, in the all important CSA executive race we see Meghan Wing come out on top as next year's Academic and University Affairs Commissioner with 76 per cent of the vote; Zoey Ross as Communications and Corporate Affairs Commissioner with 68 per cent; Miriam Kearney as External Affairs Commissioner with 72 per cent; and Ryan Shoot as Finances and Operations Commissioner with 77 per cent. No one was elected Local Affairs Commissioner as it seems that no one ran for the position.
As for the college boards, current CSA Academic and University Affairs Commissioner Peter Miller will be getting an upgrade to at-large board member of the College of Arts with 76 per cent of the vote; Michaela Spencer and Mohamed Ahmed will be at-large members of the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences board with 41 and 43 per cent of the vote respectively; Ryan Bowes and Beth Whan will be representing students to the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences with 46 and 41 per cent of the vote respectively; and Spencer McGregor will be at-large member for the Ontario Agricultural College with 78 per cent of the vote.
There were three referendums on the ballot for students to consider too. The first was from Fossil Free Guelph and asked students to endorse the idea that the University of Guelph should freeze all new investments in 200 of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, and divest from those companies over a five-year period to re-invest in ecologically and socially responsible alternatives. That got a rousing 72 per cent support, but the measure is non-binding.
The Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRCGED) asked for a funding increase from students, from the current $3.17 per semester for full time students, to an even $5 per semester. The measure failed garnering only 37 per cent of students voting in favour.
The third question concerned the Universal Bus Pass (UPass), which ever student pays for with their tuition. It currently sits at $100 per semester, which is a bargain considering that an adult bus pass is $80 per month. The referendum question asked students to approved a $50 increase to the UPass over five years starting with the coming summer semester. The full phase-in will see a $15 increase for 2016/17, a $10 increase each school year between 2017 and 2020, and a final $5 increase in the 2020/21 school year. In all 72 per cent of students voted in favour of the increase.
As for voter turnout, 2902 students cast votes in the election, accounting for 14.7 per cent of the total undergrad student population at the U of G; not a great turnout, but enough to establish quorum and make the vote official, at least for the executive and board elections. The referendum questions however failed to make quorum, meaning that even the ones that got a plurality of support will not be enacted. So what does that mean for the UPass? The current contract with Guelph Transit expires in April, and while the UPass will likely continue at the current prices, it's unknown yet what the exact repercussions of failed vote will be.
*Update March 24 with better information about the referendum.