New Tuition Policy Question Added To AMS Referenda

From March 7-11, the AMS will be holding four referenda dealing with the U-Pass, a student fee increase, and bylaw changes. As of today, a fifth question was added via student petition.

This afternoon, members of the UBC Social Justice Centre delivered a petition to VP Academic and University Affairs Matt Parson with around 1200 signatures calling for a referendum regarding the AMS’s policy on tuition and tuition increases. The question to be put to students as phrased on the petition is “From now on should the AMS lobby for reduced tuition fees for both domestic and international students?”

Under AMS Bylaws, a referendum must be called if a petition is submitted with signatures from 1000 students, or 5% of AMS members, whichever is less. While the signatures of those who signed the petition still need to be verified, it looks extremely likely that the 1000-signature threshold will be attained. As well, this referendum does not necessarily have to be held concurrently with the other four referendum questions. The bylaws specify only that the referendum must be held “not less than ten (10) days and not more than thirty (30) days after (…) the submission to the Vice-President of a petition”. However, while it could be held at a different time, initial indications are that they will all be run concurrently. 

The intent behind this new question is similar to a referendum question posed just over a year ago during the 2010 AMS elections, also looking to revise the AMS’s stance on tuition. The question posed at that time was “Should the AMS actively lobby for reduced tuition fees and increased government funding?” At the time, this question was considered to be an after-the-fact attempt to vindicate Blake Frederick and Tim Chu and show that students at least supported the idea behind their UN complaint, if not method or execution behind it.

Initially, it was reported that the tuition policy question had been the only referendum question (there were 9 questions that year) to both reach quorum and obtain the required majority. However, as a result of the massive electoral fraud that took place in 2010, 134 “yes” votes were subtracted, making it unclear whether or not the question had actually reached quorum, as illustrated in the image below. Despite the question receiving 80% approval, the AMS has not acted on the 2010 referendum because of this ambiguity surrounding whether or not quorum was met.

The results of the 2010 tuition policy referendum were inconclusive due to uncertainty resulting from that year's massive electoral fraud.


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  1. This would be a fun no campaign to run…

    To bad I am too lazy.

    Posted by Julian Ritchie | February 25, 2011, 5:35 pm
  2. Wow. They only had about 500 earlier in the day, I heard.

    However, it is my understanding that the question will be added to a ballot after council has accepted the referendum and to ensure that the question is clear.

    Then after Council approves the question, the referendum window is no less than ten days but not greater than 30.

    So either Saturday, March 19 or Monday, March 21 is the earliest date for the referendum.


    Posted by Michael Haack | February 26, 2011, 12:34 am
  3. It only says council may send it to court not that council must give the ok…
    So it can be on the same ballot, but I not sure if it should since I doubt that that question will generate the desired results even if it passes.

    Posted by Julian Ritchie | February 26, 2011, 6:23 am
  4. Michael, it’s ten days from the submission of the petition, which was Friday. That would make the window from March 7-27.

    The clock does reset if the question is referred to student court but that is only supposed to be done if the question cannot be answered “yes” or “no”. The question as phrased definitely meets that criterion. Ultimately it’s up to Jeremy to call the referendum and decide on the timing as long as it’s within the time frame above.

    Posted by Neal Yonson | February 26, 2011, 7:27 pm
  5. Ahhhh. Ok. Interesting.

    On another note, there is no Student Court this year as none have been appointed.

    Posted by Michael Haack | February 26, 2011, 10:14 pm
  6. Sigh.

    For those trying to make UBC more like UVic, maybe you should come over here for a year or two and see if it’s really an improvement?

    Posted by David Foster | February 27, 2011, 4:52 pm
  7. Hi Neal. Great article and since no-one else is covering this or knows as much about it.
    I wanted to ask. If this referendum question passes. What is the implication on the AMS.
    I mean what checks would be in place to ensure that the AMS did this. And second what would happen if anything if they didn’t follow through with it?

    Posted by Michael Moll | March 1, 2011, 1:38 am
  8. The view of most in the AMS is that if this passes, it doesn’t bind them to do anything. The students think you /should/ lobby for lower tuition. The wording of the question simply makes it a suggestion.

    Even if the official policy were to be changed to say that, on paper, the AMS will be pushing for lower tuition it’s still up to the execs to put that into action in a meaningful way. Unless a left-leaning VPX and/or President is in place we won’t see that and it could be a few years or more before voters are ready to left-leaning student politicians in positions of power.

    Even then, if they mount some big campaign, what will come of it? The CFS has been doing it for years and all they have to show for it is a lack of credibility.

    Posted by Neal Yonson | March 1, 2011, 11:06 am
  9. Yeah I agree Neal. Fuck the students. They don’t know how to set policy.

    Posted by Lane | March 4, 2011, 1:21 pm
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