April AUS Referendum Results
Online Ratification for GAs approved
13 Apr, 2012 6:00
The results of the Arts Undergraduate Society were announced on Friday, April 13. At stake were several questions regarding reforms of AUS General Assemblies. The most contentious of them was a question seeking to implement the online ratification of any motion that passed at an AUS GA. The question passed, with 980 voting for to 286 voting against (with 101 “No opinions”).
In light of recent events on campus such as the February week-long occupation of the James Administrative Building (known as “#6party”) and the March AUS GA where over 1100 students voted not to go on strike to protest the provincial government’s planned $1625 tuition increase, campus political discussion has increasingly been dominated by concerns over how to make student institutions such as the AUS and SSMU more democratic and more attuned to student concerns. The AUS GA in March was marked by record attendance and extra rooms had to be booked last minute to accommodate all students.
On its Facebook page, the “Yes” committee argued that “online ratification will restore the spirit of direct democracy to the GAs – allowing more people to register their individual opinions on important issues.” It took issue with the current system, saying that obligations such as schoolwork, exams, and jobs could prevent a student from voicing his/her opinion at a GA, adding that “online ratification is an important step towards a more representative GA”. Student Beni Fisch, who took part in the “Yes” campaign, added, “The great thing about this motion is that it maintains all that is good about the GA – namely the fact that it provides for a forum of open discussion – while enhancing the participatory aspect of it.
The “No” side emphasized that, were this question to be passed, it would essentially “kill the General Assembly”. Their concerns lay with the fact that with online voting, it “is extremely difficult to get this many students to vote and requires an extremely long and tiresome campaigning process” and that “the GA is actually much better in terms of accountability.”
Questions that were also approved included one seeking to increase the quorum required for a strike motion at a GA to be considered valid to 500 students, as well as one seeking to raise the majority needed to amend the AUS constitution to two-thirds of AUS students.