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Failed PGSS CKUT referendum passes after excluding Macdonald campus ballots

The CKUT Radio fee increase referendum in the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) took place on Oct. 21 to 27, 2015. The release of the ballot result, however, was postponed to Nov. 12 due to the inclusion of ineligible voters. After a recount of ballots, the referendum was passed with 760 votes for and 738 votes against.

The fee increase initially lost the referendum vote, with 910 votes against and 886 votes for, falling short by 24 votes. However the preliminary result was deemed invalid as it had mistakenly incorporated votes from PGSS members at the Macdonald campus, who were, in fact, ineligible for CKUT membership. Six-hundred and nineteen of the current total 8710 PGSS members are based in Macdonald campus.

“[Macdonald] Campus students don’t pay a fee to CKUT,” explained Diego Sandoval Hernandez, PGSS representative on the CKUT Board of Directors. “They are not considered members of the CKUT.”

Early last week, concerns arose as to whether a re-vote should be held. According to Colby Briggs, chief returning officer of PGSS, the miscount was merely a technical problem and could be fixed without organizing another round of ballots.

“The way I track it [is to] designate students with certain statuses,” he explains. “Then we go through [the online system] and negate any vote that should not have been cast—without anybody knowing how they voted.”

He continued to explain that the mistake was partly due to the confusion caused by the lists of students enrolled in various graduare progrannes provided by McGill.

“There [are] mistakes in them and there’s lack of clarity,” Briggs said. “According to one of the lists, there’re only two people in the Faculty of Law [….] But then there are another 200 [whom] are not listed as faculties, [but] graduate studies. I [have contacted] the representative at Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning [office] to determine who belongs where.”

Since the referendum has passed, there will be an increase from $3.75 to $5.25 in CKUT fee-levy collected from full-time graduate students per semester, and an increase from $1.88 to $3.38 for part-time graduate students. The increased fee-levy would be applicable only to the Downtown Campus and is opt-outable.

According to Cecilia MacArthur, chair of CKUT Board of Directors, the fee increase is expected to bring extra revenue to CKUT, which is running a deficit. The increased fee-levy collected from graduate students is estimated to be $10,000.

“We’re in a situation where our budget is quite tight,” said MacArthur. “We’re already running a $40,251 deficit this coming year. Would [the referendums] pass, the fee increase [collected from both PGSS and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)] will bring us down to a $4,251 deficit.”

Similar voting issues did no affect the SSMU referendum for the same CKUT fee increase. According to Mathieur Rouleau, president of Macdonald Campus Students’ Society (MCSS), undergraduate students at the Macdonald campus do not participate in SSMU ballots and are not members of CKUT.

“We [MCSS] are equivalent to SSMU,” he said. “We do our own elections and referendums. The MCSS has not been asked by anybody to be part of the [CKUT] radio and we have not been historically part of the radio fund.”

The SSMU referendum on the same $1.50 increase in CKUT fee was held Nov. 11 to 15. According to the results released on Nov. 15 night, the referendum failed with 54.7% voting ‘No’.

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One Comment

  1. Colby Michael-Colin

    FYI postdocs were also excluded when the voter list was reprocessed!! Thanks – Colby (CRO)

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