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CKUT to hold two questions on winter referendum

Following the administration’s refusal to recognize the results of the fall referenda, Radio CKUT will hold two questions in the winter referendum, one on the organization’s existence and a separate one on changing the fee to be a non opt-outable fee. QPIRG has not yet taken a final position on the issue, but has until Feb. 17 to submit questions.

Myriam Zaidi, undergraduate representative to CKUT’s Board of Directors, explained that CKUT submit the questions to the administration for approval. The radio chose to do so because, after the refusal of the fall referenda, Morton Mendelson, the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), recommended that the campus groups run their questions through the administration. At the time of press, the administration had not confirmed whether it approved the questions.

Last fall, a majority of student voters responded ‘yes’ on referendum questions submitted by QPIRG and CKUT, which called for the organizations’ existence and for opt-outs to be offline. The administration announced that it will not recognize the referendum results, calling the questions “unclear.”

Every five years, the two organizations hold referenda in which the student body votes on the organizations’  existence. A ‘yes’ vote allows the two organizations to renew their Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the administration, a document that establishes the groups’ relationship with the university, enabling them to negotiate their leases and receive student fees. Both MoAs will expire in June 2012.

“Our MoA is ending and the administration seems really adamant on not accepting our results from last semester,” Zaidi said. “It’s not a battle we think we can pick.”

Zaidi explained that the second question, which would no longer allow students to opt out of CKUT’s fee, will allow the campus radio to sustain itself in the future. Other campus media organizations that are currently non opt-outable include the McGill Daily and the McGill Tribune.

“We’re a public good, recognized by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). We have constant fees to pay as a radio, and we need to maintain certain standards and services [as members of] the CRTC,” Zaidi said. “We’re accessible to everyone … and we have 24/7 media coverage.”

Achieving quorum was a major concern during the fall referendum, but Zaidi noted that this semester, quorum is not a concern.

“Last semester we were more worried about quorum, because it was only our questions that were being put forward, whereas this semester it’s going to be on the same ballot as voting for SSMU elections and other questions,” she said.

Kira Page, member of the QPIRG Board of Directors and McGill alumni, said that QPIRG is currently in talks with the administration to determine if the vote could be considered valid.

“We are looking for other ways to work with the administration to find a way that they can recognize the vote as valid. There’s still a possibility that we’ll run another referendum, but it’s not a possibility that we’re excited about,” she said.

Page said she was unable to reveal the nature of the negotiations with the administration.

“I can’t really talk about what’s happening in the negotiations, but we are working [on] finding a solution that works best for both of us, and respects the [wishes of the] administration but also the fall referendum,” Page said. “We’re very much still trying to figure out if the compromises that we would be making with the administration would be better or worse than running another referendum.”

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