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ConU students vote for fee increases

by Archives November 16, 2005

Voting in the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) referendum went off without a hitch last week and the results indicate that students voted in favour of each of the six proposed actions.

Chief Electoral Officer, Daniella Brazel, said the turnout was a “record high” for a by-election with 2,167 votes, far surpassing the usual turnout of approximately 1,700. According to Brazel, numbers are usually higher for a general election. In all, there were nine polling booths administered by 22 poll clerks at the Sir George Williams (SGW) and Loyola campuses from November 8- 10.

What the results of the referendum mean is that students have voted yes to a multitude of fee increases to support various Concordia student services. This includes an extra 15 cents per credit to support the university’s soon to be licensed radio station, CJLO Radio, 25 cents per credit to allow the People’s Potato to continue operating and an extra 35 cents per credit to be allocated to the Concordia University Volunteer Abroad Program (CUVAP) in Uganda. An increase of 30 cents to fund the Student Advocacy Centre, and a $1 increase to the CSU fee levy allows for the construction of the planned Student Centre were also approved. These increases will take effect beginning in the 2006 winter term.

CSU President Mohamed Shuriye said that they were a little pessimistic about student participation going into the by-election, but he’s “very happy with the voter turnout and results. It shows a resounding approval by the students and now that the fee levies have been passed, it’s about getting the work done.”

Students expect to be consulted as plans for CJLO radio and the student centre advance, but it could be years before the centre is in operation. There will be an opportunity to discuss, in open meetings, how the monies will be used. The CSU plans to keep students informed via the website and with newsletters.

The votes regarding the People’s Potato and the CUVAP project won by the biggest majorities, with approximately 1,500 votes for and 500 against. The vote for CJLO was the closest with a 131-vote difference.

Steven Rosenshein, VP of communications for the CSU, said that in the last year they have worked on “strategies of communication” to increase students’ awareness of upcoming elections because of problems in the past. According to Rosenshein, the problems are “more or less resolved.” The CSU hopes that the high turnout in the by-election is only the beginning.

Nevertheless, there remains a sample of students who weren’t aware there had been an election at all.

Aous Shakra, an accounting major, said that the reason he didn’t vote is because “every now and then there’s a vote and you don’t see any changes whatsoever. We don’t hear enough about it.”

Geral Cooper, 26, an independent graduate student taking a single night course, expressed her shock that there had been a referendum.

“[I] would of liked to see something in print, perhaps more posters or an email,” she said.

The counting was done on Thursday from 9 – 11:30pm, and the results were announced that night at Reggie’s bar.

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