UVic Pride referendum voted down after WebVote error

The referendum proposing increased resources for the UVic Pride Collective through an increased student levy has been struck down following a 54 per cent “no” vote on Thursday, Nov. 26.

Web-PrideAbout 17 per cent of the student body voted in the referendum, with 1403 students voting in favour of an increase of 74 cents for full-time students, and 37 cents for part-time students, per semester. 1662 students voted against.

In a statement to the Martlet, the UVic Pride Collective said, “We feel surprised and disheartened at the results from the Elections Office. We feel that the majority of people who voted ‘no’ may not have fully understood the importance of our services to the community at large.”

The referendum was not without controversy, as early student voters noted a mistake in the percentages needed for the referendum to pass. While the UVic WebVote website initially said the referendum required a 67 per cent majority to pass when voting opened Nov. 26, the figure was corrected halfway through voting to read that only a majority of 50.01 per cent was needed.

Screenshots on various social media outlets like Yik Yak, an anonymous location-based social media forum, first highlighted the change in referendum percentages, with UVSS Elections being notified of the change at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

A statement released by UVSS Elections said that this was a technical error.

“Once the mistake on the WebVote ballot was brought to the attention of the Elections Office,” read the statement, “the University’s administration was contacted to make the change . . . We apologize that this oversight was not caught earlier.”

Kevin Tupper, a third-year economics student and the former official opponent of the referendum, believes the failure of the referendum has nothing to do with the student’s view of Pride, but rather the student’s view of the UVSS.

“[This result] showed to me that this referendum didn’t boil down to Pride,” said Tupper, speaking to the Martlet. “I know, and students know, that Pride is widely supported. What it boiled down to is the mismanagement and malpractice of the current executives on the UVSS board.”

Tupper, who originally opposed the referendum as a protest against raising student fees rather than against UVic Pride as an organization, believes the UVSS cost Pride the money.

“Past executives have had referendums passed supporting the Students of Colour Collective, supporting the Food Bank, supporting many advocacy groups,” said Tupper. “So it’s really too bad that this current executive have strayed so much from what students want that they’ve made the advocacy groups pay for it.”

In their statement, Pride thanked volunteers for their work and dedication, and said that the Collective would be “having conversations” about the best way to proceed in light of the results.

3 Comments

Avatar Jake

In a statement to the Martlet, the UVic Pride Collective said, “We feel surprised and disheartened at the results from the Elections Office. We feel that the majority of people who voted ‘no’ may not have fully understood the importance of our services to the community at large.”

I don’t know about that. Everyone I’ve spoken to about this issue has actually supported UVic Pride and the services it offers. What a lot of people don’t like is how it cost $10,000 just to hold a premature referendum in November instead of waiting until the spring. That’s a poor use of funds, and I think students’ concern at the poor use of funds is reflected in the referendum results.

Really, this is a small part of a larger issue: the UVSS is constantly asking for more student money while misusing the funds it already has, and students are tired of it. I’ll readily admit that the UVSS does good work, but it’s not financially responsible, and students don’t want to keep forking over more fees just to watch them go down the drain.

Avatar Mitch

I can appreciate that Kevin is trying to be diplomatic, but this referendum failed because Pride asked the wrong people for money. Students already bear a large burden in funding the majority of the UVSS’s operations. It is time that all UVSS groups and businesses find a way to decrease fees to students and increase revenues from other sources. Asking students for more money is a lazy way to raise funds.

Avatar Student

As a third year student who is tired of hearing that the student body is slowly increasing tuition while stating the opposition to tuition hikes by the government, it seems a little contradictory. Coinciding with the incompetency of the UVSS of late this was not good timing for the referendum. Student referendums should be held with instead of absolutes for a certain group, hold competition between multiple support and advocacy groups on campus to increase student awareness to both the referendum and the issues. I also wish that the student body collected data on the gender of the voters in this election. It would be interesting to see the stats of men versus women in the election. Additionally, the pride club was not able to have enough influence in reaching the student body, me being one of them. I understand they give out free condoms and assume they act as a support group for the LGBT community. The fact that only 17 percent of the student body participated also shows the level of disinterest students felt. As someone who is not completely aware of the product the Pride club presents to students but said no on the referendum, I think I represent a group that usually does not participate in politics but wants to be interested. We just don’t see what the point is.

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