A referendum is a question put to all members of the society (you!) to vote on. Under law, the UVSS is required to put certain issues to a full membership vote. According to the University Act, section 27.1.2: “…if a student society… changes student society fees, the new amount or the rate of change must be approved… by a majority of the members of the student society who cote in a referendum”.

Voting opens Wednesday March 24, 2021 (9:00am PST) Closes Friday March 26, 2021 (12:00pm PST)


Question 1

Are you in favour of ending the collection of the fee, which is $3.00 for full time students per semester and $1.50 for part time students per semester, that goes towards a Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), as there is not currently an active service provider operating a UVic PIRG?

Proponent: Caleb Burd

WHAT IS THE UVSS’ HISTORY WITH PIRGS?

A public interest research group (PIRG) is an organization dedicated to conducting public interest research. For historical context, the UVSS ran a referendum question in 1983 to establish a PIRG at UVic called the dVancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG). Currently, the fee collected to fund a PIRG is $3.00 per semester for full time students and $1.50 for part time students.

WHY IS THE UVSS PROPOSING DEFUNDING THE PIRG?

After a referendum question in 2019 ran to end the fee collected for the PIRG at UVic, VIPIRG decided to leave the university setting and become a community based organisation. After this departure, the UVSS released a call for a new PIRG to join the university. Unfortunately, this proved unsuccessful and the UVSS has continued to collect a fee to fund a PIRG without a PIRG to receive this funding. The only way we can end the collection of this fee is through referendum, so the UVSS ran a referendum question in the fall of 2020 to end the collection of this fee but it did not pass as quorum was not met. Now, we are seeking to once again end the collection of the fee to continue to ensure that every dollar of your student fees goes towards a service provider. If you have any further questions about this referendum question, please feel free to reach out to Caleb, the proponent, at finance@uvss.ca

Top three reasons for supporting this referenda question:
  1. We no longer have a PIRG! We don’t want you paying for something that doesn’t exist.
  2. The UVSS made several attempts to find a replacement PIRG, but were unable to find an appropriate organization to fulfill the original mandate.
  3. The discontinuation of the PIRG fee can only happen through a referendum, so please vote “yes” to save yourself money.

Question 2

Are you in favour of reallocating the fees currently held in trust for the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), to be split evenly between a UVic student award established with preference for BIPOC students, and the UVSS Operating Fund? You are voting for this question under the following circumstances:

• The fees held in trust are $192,623 as of January 15, 2021; and,  

• If a majority of students vote no or this question doesn’t reach quorum, the UVSS Board of Directors will administer all current and future fees collected for PIRG purposes in the best interests of undergraduate students at the University of Victoria, to be determined via a vote of the Board of Directors.

Proponent: Caleb Burd

WHAT IS THE UVSS’ HISTORY WITH PIRGS?

As of September 28th, $130,979.78 of student fees are being held in trust (kept in a separate account and are not being used). The UVSS is currently unable to use these fees for any other purpose other than the mandate of a PIRG. Since the PIRG no longer exists at the UVSS, and therefore does not bring students value, the UVSS is advocating to reallocate the remaining PIRG funding ($130,979.78) so it supports students. The current fund ($192,623 as of January 15, 2021) would be split evenly between a newly-created student bursary and/or award, and the UVSS operating fund.

By voting yes to this question, you are ensuring that these remaining PIRG funds ($192,623 as of January 15, 2021) are put to use in a manner that will continue to benefit the students. As such, it is imperative that you vote yes to the referenda questions regarding the PIRG fee. This would ensure that the fees the UVSS collects from its students are directly given back in a just and productive way, which can benefit students significantly more than if the funds were to continue to be collected and held.

The important dates for the upcoming referenda questions regarding the topics mentioned above can be found here . We have a great opportunity to increase our ability to help students in real and significant ways, but we need YOUR help to make sure these referenda questions pass at the upcoming elections! If you have any further questions about this referendum question, please feel free to reach out to Caleb, the proponent, at finance@uvss.ca

From March 24th to 26th we are asking for you to log in and vote “Yes” to the questions above!

Top three reasons for supporting this referenda question:
  1. Because we haven’t had a PIRG for a few semesters now, collected funds have been accumulating in the PIRG account with the UVSS. The reallocation of the PIRG fee can only happen through a referendum.
  2. Voting yes will provide equity to BIPOC students to better finance their academic experience with UVic.
  3. Voting yes will allow your UVic Student’s Society to better provide advocacy, representation, services, and events for its members.

Question 3

Are you in favour of establishing a fee of $1.50 per full-time student per semester and $0.75 per part-time student per semester in order to fund the creation of open-source textbooks and other open-source learning materials, which would be used in UVic classrooms? All monies would be transferred annually to the UVic Division of Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI), and UVic Libraries, for the purpose of the adoption, adaptation, or development of open educational resources (OERs).

Proponent: Jonathan Granirer

Hi there! My name is Jon, I am a fifth-year social science student and I am stoked to be the proponent for the open-source textbook referendum. Open-source textbooks, or open-source learning materials, are any type of learning material (textbook, online module, workbook, etc…) that are free to access and can be updated without charge by teaching staff. Open-source learning materials have the potential to reduce much of the financial barriers that we as students face at UVic. Too many of us have to choose between textbooks and groceries. Voting in favour of this referendum would help ensure that fewer students have to make these impossible decisions. Since 2019, the UVSS has been able to save students hundreds of thousands of dollars per year through the creation of open-source textbooks. Passing this referendum would create a larger, more predictable source of funding dedicated to the creation of these resources. The UVSS should be saving students money, not costing us money. Voting yes to this referendum will do exactly that. This proposed fee levy has the potential to save students money as, for every dollar that is spent on the creation of open-source textbooks, students can save up to $10 per year — meaning that you can pay $1.50 now and get a free textbook later. The majority of the money collected through this fee levy would be sent to an open-source learning material grant that UVic issues twice a year. These grants are given to professors who would like to create open-source learning materials in their classes. The committee that adjudicates this grant money has strong student representation and prioritizes giving grants to large classrooms that have the potential to save students the largest amounts of money. If you have any questions, please send them to jonathangranirer@shaw.ca.


Question 4

Do you support tying UVSS fees to inflation (a maximum annual increase of approximately 2%) starting in September 2022 so the UVSS can continue to serve and represent students as the cost of doing so increases? This does not include Health and Dental or the U-Pass fees.

Proponent: Emily Lowan

On March 24th to 26th, you can vote “yes” to tie UVSS fees to inflation (a maximum annual increase of approximately 2%), effective September 2022. This change will ensure that the UVSS can continue providing the same level of services, advocacy, and events for students. Tying fees to inflation will ensure that the UVSS can continue providing funds to the groups who make up the UVSS, such as:

Food Bank and Free Store: Every week, hundreds of UVic students come to the Food Bank & Free Store to access food essentials and free household items. 

Peer Support Centre: Trained student volunteers offer online support that is non-judgmental, empathetic and confidential, and is designed to help fellow students navigate next-step resources and student life at UVic.

Advocacy Groups: This includes the UVic Pride Collective, Students of Colour Collective (SOCC), Society for Students with a Disability (SSD) & the Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM). These groups do incredible advocacy work for equity-seeking student groups, and offer their own events and services. 

Anti-Violence Project: Offers online support services to folks who have been impacted by gender-based violence and provides free, online workshops on consent and supporting survivors of gender-based violence. 

The Martlet: UVic’s independent student paper, is funded partially through students’ fees and is produced by an autonomous collection of students and staff. A new edition of the Martlet is available online, across campus and throughout Victoria every other Thursday during the fall and winter semesters.

These are just a few of the services provided through the UVSS fee, which must be tied to inflation to continue providing the same level of support to students within our University community. If you have any further questions about this referendum question, please feel free to reach out to Emily, the proponent, at campaigns@uvss.ca

Top three reasons for supporting this referenda question:

  1. Tying student fees to inflation will allow the Student Union Buildings’s groups, such as the Peer Support Centre, the Anti-Violence Project, and the Food Bank and Free Store to continue serving you as the cost of doing so increases.
  2. Tying student fees to inflation will allow the UVSS to continue promoting student interests with UVic, and with the broader community. 
  3. Tying student fees to inflation will prevent the need for significant student fee increases in the future.

Question 5

Are you in favour of establishing a fee of $2.50 per full-time student per semester and $1.25 per part-time student per semester, beginning in September 2021 and ending in August 2026, to evaluate and fund environmental sustainability initiatives for the UVSS (including, but not limited to: hardware, software, new windows, heat pumps, the recycling program, and solar panels)?

Proponent: Caleb Burd

The UVSS recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for all organizations to take action in addressing the greatest challenge of our time. The UVSS’ values include “strive[ing] to be climate justice leaders that set an example for our members, UVic, and the greater community.” Students recognize that the climate crisis intersects with existing structures of oppression and acknowledge anti-racism and decolonial work as essential components of climate justice. Voting yes on this referendum will enable the Student Union Building to further its ability to pursue environmental sustainability. If passed, the UVSS will fund infrastructure improvements which directly reduce the consumption of greenhouse gas emissions: upgrading windows, building entryways that limit heat loss, and investigating renewable energy options. If you support environmental sustainability, the UVSS asks you to support this referendum question. If you have any further questions about this referendum question, please feel free to reach out to Caleb, the proponent, at finance@uvss.ca

Top three reasons for supporting this referenda question:
  1. This is an opportunity to help the UVSS reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Significant infrastructure improvements will not be possible without this funding
  3. After several years these improvements will save the UVSS money and that means more money going right back into services for students