Energize UVic sweeps student election; referendums fail to meet quorum

Campus News
*"Dancing in the Dark" plays softly* Image via Facebook
You’ll be seeing a lot of these folks next year. Image via Facebook

UPDATE: We’ve updated this story to include comment from Energize UVic’s campaign manager and one of their candidates.

UPDATE March 5: We’ve updated this story to include comment from Connect UVic’s campaign manager, as well as to provide more context around the Peter Singer event on Wednesday, March 1.

Energize UVic has routed Connect UVic, winning every single position on the UVSS Board of Directors, it was announced Friday afternoon.

Both referendums also failed to reach the 15 per cent voter threshold to make quorum.

Voter turnout drops below previous year’s election

A meagre 2 604 students, out of an eligible 17 631, cast a ballot — a turnout of 14.99 per cent. Last year’s student elections had a turnout of 20.1 per cent in comparison.

Kate Fairley, current director-at-large, has been elected Director of Outreach & University Relations, with 62.3 per cent of the votes cast.

MacKenzie Cumberland has been elected Director of Finance & Operations 61 per cent of the votes cast.

Noor Chasib has been elected Director of Events, with 58.2 per cent of the votes cast.

Kaitlin Fortier has been elected Director of Student Affairs, with 59.2 per cent of the votes cast.

And Anmol Swaich has been elected Director of Campaigns & Community Relations, with 56.4 per cent of the votes cast.

All 11 director-at-large positions went to Energize UVic candidates. Dheeraj Alamchandani was elected Director of International Student Relations, though he was the only candidate in the running.

The UVSS Elections website has the full results.

Low turnout cripples referendums

According to results released by UVSS Elections, the referendum asking students if they favoured a fee increase for the Food Bank failed to make quorum, with only 14.3 per cent voter participation.

The referendum asking students if they’re in favour of adjusting student society fees to match inflation also failed, with 13.8 per cent voter participation. It also failed to reach 50 per cent plus one voter approval. 

Both slates comment on results

Shortly after the results were announced Friday afternoon, Energize candidates were found in Felicita’s celebrating. Most were hesitant to speak with us on the record.

However, Cumberland did say that Energize was happy to have won, but acknowledged it was “disappointing” to see turnout so low compared to last year.

“But we still are excited with the results,” she said.

During the final days of the campaign, much of the surrounding discourse was dominated by the issue of free speech, spurred by an UVic Effective Altruism club event on March 1 featuring well-known philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer. The issue divided both slates in their respective stances, with Connect supporting student’s right to protest the event, while Energize subsequently accused them of stifling free speech and academic freedom.

When asked if she thought the ongoing controversy around that event had any effect on the election, Cumberland said it was “definitely an event that mobilized some of our voter base, but I don’t really care to comment more on it.”

Ryan Trelford, Energize UVic campaign manager, said this year’s election was “really clean,” and said it seemed “people were getting along better” compared to last year.

When asked the same question of whether or not the Singer controversy affected the outcome, Trelford said it may have, “but when you look at the results in the margins, things were pretty close.”

Jessica Lar-Son, Connect UVic campaign manager, provided a statement via email. “In truth, I do not think many of us were surprised by the election results,” she wrote. “We had, of course, hoped that students would see that we were the better candidates, but when our message was clouded by misinformation and faulty attacks, it was difficult to imagine the results would be any different than how they turned out.”

Lar-Son commented extensively on the Singer event’s effect on the election, and said that Connect does feel the issue, “and the untrue allegations made against us in regards to academic freedom and free speech,” played a large part in the results.

“It is difficult to have a level playing field when one side seeks to spread untrue information about their opponents. It saddens us that student politics at our campus this election period has been clouded by the idea that anyone on our slate believes in anything other than protecting student rights for everyone on this campus.”

However, Lar-Son commended the Connect candidates for the work they did. “Even with a loss, we are happy that important dialogue occurred, and many students participated in the electoral process . . . The Connect team is enthusiastic about helping students at UVic, and we look forward to many partnerships on this campus in the future.”