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After two weeks of campaigning, voting for the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Winter Special Referendum has closed. The referendum proposed a $5.50 increase in the base fee per term as well as the addition of a seventh portfolio to the SSMU executive. The base fee increase was rejected with 50.3 per cent (1600) voting “No” and 49.7 per cent (1583) voting “Yes." The restructuring of the executive team passed with 72.1 per cent voting affirmatively and 27.9 per cent voting no. In total, 3438 students participated in voting, allowing the referendum to reach the 15 per cent required quorum with a 16.3 percent voter turnout.
“The results were kind of a shock,” SSMU VP Finance and Operations Zacheriah Houston said. “But to be honest, at first we were all just thrilled that we made quorum; the 15 per cent quorum was new this year and we were really worried that we weren’t going to make it.”
With the rejection of the proposed base fee increase, the SSMU faces a difficult decision and will likely have to make budget cuts. According to Houston, all parts of the SSMU budget are fair game for adjustment as it considers next year’s budget during the current February budget revisions.
“It’s going to be a challenge to make the cuts that we’re going to have to make,” Houston said. “With this, we have to make a little more than $100,000 worth of cuts and adjustments, but either way, those cuts needed to be made. But everything is on the table right now. It’s going to take some time to look at the entire budget and see every area we can adjust.”
Houston and the rest of the executive team are relieved and eager to distribute the workload more evenly among the future SSMU executives, though the addition of the seventh executive will create more work for the remainder of their term.
“As disappointed as I am about the membership fee failing, it’s still such a win that the seventh executive passed,” Houston said. “It is so important that we become better able to do our jobs by distributing the workload across an additional person [….] It’s overwhelming because we have a lot of work to do now. With that question passing comes five by-law books, a bunch of policies, tons of committees, and everything needs to be revised. Our entire structure now needs to be rewritten.”