With the announcement of the new President-elect, the MSU also revealed the results of the VP electoral referendum. During this election period, students not only had the chance to vote for their choice candidate for president, but to also vote for or against (or abstain) initiating an election process for MSU Vice-Presidents.
The referendum resulted in 66.4 percent of the votes in favour of the process, with 4,590 students saying “yes” to VP at-large elections. While this number is impressive, it wasn’t enough for the referendum to pass. A constitutional referendum requires two-thirds of the votes to pass, or in other words, 66.67% “yes” votes. Had it received 20 more votes, or roughly 0.27% more support, McMaster would currently be moving towards an at-large VP electoral system.
“We were angry and disappointed in ourselves. We could have made just one more class talk, or ask more people to vote in order for it to pass,” said Esra Bengizi, one of the managers of the pro-VP reform campaign, in an interview with a Silhouette reporter.
The pro-referendum campaign group formed in early November after the Student Mobilization Syndicate presented a petition with over 800 signatures to the Student Representative Assembly requesting the right for students to vote for their VPs (Education, Administration and Finance) — a task that is currently done exclusively by the SRA. The SRA addressed the petition at their Nov. 1 meeting and decided that the vote would go to referendum as opposed to becoming a constitutional amendment.
Had the referendum passed, McMaster wouldn’t be the first school to switch to an at-large VP electoral system. Western University currently runs on a system that allows students to vote for two of their five VPs. The system has proven successful — as they have managed to continually elect a candidate for each position — but over the years voter turnout has decreased, and voter fatigue is assumed to play a role in this.
Although this recent loss is a blow to the efforts of pro-referendum campaign group, this may not be the end of the group’s campaigning. The VP Referendum is not the first to fail on a ballot, and this year doesn’t have to be the end of its campaigning. The Health Care Referenda, which constituted of three different questions related to the student health plan, failed the first run during the elections for the 2014-15 MSU President. The referenda were added to the ballot again the following year, and after increased promotions and education, all three referenda passed.
“With a team of only ten people we were able to get 4,590 voters to say yes,” Bengizi said. “Imagine if we had more. I was shocked to see such a success, and seeing this makes me even more ambitious to try again… we will not give up, we are going to continue to fight”.
*Files from Shalom Joseph
Photo Credit: Michael Gallagher/ Production Editor