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.
About 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.