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QPIRG and CKUT survive, voter turnout up 9.5 per cent

The fall semester’s referendum questions passed with an overwhelming majority, announced Elections McGill last Thursday. Two of these questions were to determine whether QPIRG McGill and CKUT Radio should continue to receive student funding and if these fees should be opt-outable in person rather than online via Minerva. QPIRG’s existence was approved by a vote of 65.6 per cent of voters for, 28.5 per cent against (with 5.8 per cent abstentious), while CKUT’s existence was extended by 72.3 per cent of voters for, 20.6 per cent against, and 7.1 per cent abstentious.

Despite concerns from some students that quorum would be difficult to achieve, voting turnout was 24.7 per cent of the undergraduate student body, notably higher than the required 15 per cent. SSMU President Maggie Knight noted that this referendum showed an increase in student participation as compared to previous years.

“I’m really happy that we saw voter turnout increase a lot. [Turnout on the fall referendum] last year was 15.2 per cent, so this is 9.5 per cent up from last year,” Knight said. “It’s good to see more students involved in a democratic way. Obviously, I think this was spurred by the issue—I know Elections McGill put a lot of effort into promotion this year but the CKUT and QPIRG ‘Yes’ committees were on the ground every day and pressed really hard.”

Following the vote, the atmosphere was festive, with large numbers of supporters of QPIRG and CKUT celebrating the referenda results. Danji Buck-Moore, a U3 arts student who campaigned for QPIRG, shared his excitement with the Tribune.

“I think it’s a relief to a lot of people who worked really hard on this. It shows that the mandate exists for these organizations to actually be here and work for students,” he said. “Students support student life. At least temporarily, hopefully this will silence the claims that [QPIRG and CKUT] are fringe groups, because they clearly are not.”

Niko Block, co-chair of the CKUT ‘Yes’ committee and board member of CKUT, also noted his happiness with the results.

“It’s wonderful to see such overwhelming student support for the organizations,” Block said. “My hope is that the university will recognize this vote and that negotiations go more smoothly than they have gone with MUNACA and other issues.”

Block was not surprised that quorum was achieved, as his campaign was informed by Elections McGill that quorum had been met on Tuesday morning.

“[Quorum is] really what we wanted. For my part I felt like, ‘You know what, if we get quorum and we lose, then so be it, at least we got quorum, at least it was a good vote,'” he said. “We were a little nervous but mostly excited and we obviously exploded with joy when we found the vote was ‘yes.’ It was awesome.”

For students who did not agree with the phrasing of the question, there is much anticipation about how offline opt-outs will affect them.

“I would like QPIRG and CKUT to clearly indicate their opt-out process and explain how they’re going to do this,” Stephen David, U3 mining engineering, said. “Once all the people who remember that fees are opt-outable have graduated, are QPIRG and CKUT still going to mention that these fees are opt-outable? Or are they going to forget about it?”

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