(Some of) the students have spoken

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UR Pride wins referendum with low voter turnout

Natasha Tersigni
News Editor

For the UR Pride, the second time was a charm.

With a referendum being held at the U of R for the second time in four years, UR Pride got what it wanted: direct, consistent funding via an optional student levy.

According to the official count, 409 students voted “yes,” 65 students voted “no,” and one ballot was spoiled, meaning 86.2 per cent of voting students said ”yes” to paying UR Pride $1.00 per full-time student per semester and 50 cents for part-time students.

“As a staff member, it is really awesome to see the support,” said Karli Jessup, project co-ordinator at UR Pride.

“I excepted to see the referendum go through just based on the positive response we got from the [pre-referendum] petition.”

Since UR Pride’s re-branding in 2010, the centre has become more active on campus and in the community, starting initatives such as the weekly safe-space night for queer youth. With an increased program roster and higher visibility, the centre’s board decided to push for referendum establishing an independent levy this academic year.

In order for the referendum to occur, UR Pride needed a petition with five percent of the student body’s signatures. Volunteers gathered signatures between September to December and presented them to the URSU board in mid-December.

“I am happy that the work we put in to doing the referendum has paid off,” said Dan Shier, external chair relations at UR Pride.

Although UR Pride had campaigned for the majority of January, the referendum only had a student turnout of 475, which is approximately a four-per-cent turnout among the student body.

Shier said he was not surprised by the low voter turnout.

“From day one, we didn’t except to many people because it was a referendum-only vote.” He went on to explain that other referendums, such as the Carillon and the U-Pass, had similar voter turnout.

David Hill, a fourth-year year biology student at the University of Regina, was one of the 409 students that showed up and voted “yes” in the referendum.

“I [have] friends for whom [the center] is relevant,” Hill explained.“I frequently heard their frustrations that they can’t do what they want to because of funding.”

With the referendum passing now and the student levies soon to be in place, every student at the university who doesn’t opt out of the levy is now a member of UR Pride. While nothing major changes except for the exemption of some paperwork, it does mean that any student who chooses can run for a spot on the centre’s board.

Now that the referendum is over, UR Pride can now focus its energy on hosting the 2012 Canadian University Queer Conference from May 2-6. The centre expects between 200-250 delegates representing post-secondary queer service providers from across the country to attend.

3 comments

  1. Tattoo Mikey 26 January, 2012 at 19:52

    gonna be opting out, I'd have to say….
    it would've been good to add info on how to opt out.

  2. Robert Smith 4 February, 2012 at 19:59

    Nobody should be compelled to support a sanction, nor to give sanction to what they don't agree with.  Tolerance is enough.   

  3. John Cameron 7 February, 2012 at 10:26

    Robert – A compelling argument for the opt-out provisions UR Pride will have in place. As it stood pre-referendum, students paying student union fees were traditionally compelled to support UR Pride no matter what, due to the organization's funding coming almost entirely from annual URSU grants.

    Mikey – There will be an opt-out period in the fall as with RPIRG, and as with other opt-out centres you simply have to fill out a form (likely made available online, but if not then made available in the centre itself) and submit it, at which point you're cut a cheque for your fees.

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