On March 24-26th, Vote Yes on the Following Referenda Questions

This year, there are 5 important referendum questions put forward by your Board of Directors at the UVSS. We created this page to give more information on each of these questions so you can learn why we think voting yes is in the best interests of undergrad students at UVic. You can vote at webvote.uvic.ca

The UVSS is asking you to VOTE YES to:

  1. Open Educational Resources (OERs), which are free textbooks and course materials!
  2. Tying the UVSS fees to inflation so we can to continue to serve students well!
  3. Sustainability initiatives in the Student Union Building!
  4. No longer collecting a fee for a service that doesn’t exist (the PIRG)!
  5. Reallocating PIRG funds back into students!

See below for more information on each of these questions, and please remember to vote. If not enough students vote, we may have to continue collecting fees for a service that no longer exists, and the other initiatives will not get funded.

UVSS Board of Directors (Lead Director positions) are also being elected during this voting period! Find out more here: uvsselections.com

Vote Yes for Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Question: “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, jonathangranirer@shaw.ca

On March 24th to 26th, you can vote “yes” to establish a $1.50 fee per full-time student per semester, and $0.75 fee per part-time student per semester, for the creation of open educational resources (OERs). This fee will fund free textbooks and online learning resources for students! By supporting OERs, you will help yourself save money in the future and remove financial barriers for thousands of UVic students every year. Now, more than ever, post-secondary students in Canada are facing financial hardship.  From the financial impacts of COVID-19, to an ever increasing cost of living and tuition, the establishment of this fee will help decrease student spending to further their academic career. 

One of the fastest and most economical ways to lower costs for students is to vote “yes” to the creation of this fund!

Vote Yes to Tying UVSS Fees to Inflation

Question:“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, campaigns@uvss.ca

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 services, advocacy, and events for students through the groups who make up the UVSS, such as:

  • 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. 
  • The Ombudsperson: Provides undergraduate and graduate students with information about their rights and responsibilities, and helps them navigate UVic regulations and procedures. The Ombudsperson receives inquiries and complaints from students, and can support students by facilitating communication between students and staff or faculty, clarifying options or gathering information not easily accessible to students, and problem-solving!
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 and protection to students within our University community. If you have any further questions about this referendum question, please feel free to reach out to Emily Lowan, the proponent, at campaigns@uvss.ca

Vote Yes to Sustainability Initiatives in the SUB

Question: “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, finance@uvss.ca

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.” Voting yes on this referendum will enable the Student Union Building (SUB) to further pursue environmental sustainability. If passed, the UVSS will fund infrastructure improvements to reduce the consumption of greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental sustainability such as upgrading windows and building entryways that limit heat loss, and investigating renewable energy options. 

For financial context, an increase of $2.50 per student per semester will result in roughly $500,000 after five years. This is only the first step in funding major upgrades for improving energy efficiency in the SUB, as these renovations are costly. Upgrading all of the windows in the SUB is estimated to cost $1.5 million, for example. 

For more information on specific sustainability improvements please check out the reports located on https://uvss.ca/sustainability.

If you support environmental sustainability, the UVSS asks you to support this referendum question. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the proponent, Caleb Burd, at finance@uvss.ca.

Vote Yes to Ending Collection of the PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) fee

Question: “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, finance@uvss.ca

WHAT IS THE UVSS’ HISTORY WITH PIRGS?

A PIRG, or public interest research group, is an organization dedicated to conducting research on issues of public interest. In 1983, the UVSS established via referendum a dedicated fee to support PIRGs, which became the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG). We no longer have a PIRG after VIPIRG severed its relationship with the UVSS. We tried to find a replacement, but we received no suitable nominations. We continue to collect a fee for a service that no longer exists. Currently, the fee collected to fund a PIRG is $3 per semester for full time students and $1.50 for part time students.

WHY IS THE UVSS PROPOSING ENDING COLLECTION OF THE PIRG FEE?

We do not currently have a PIRG (details explained below in the timeline) yet the PIRG fee continues to be collected, as required by UVSS Bylaws. As of January 15, 2021 the PIRG fees held in trust (kept secure in a separate account) total $192,623. We do not want to collect any more student money for a service that no longer exists! We want to ensure that any fees the UVSS collects are directly benefiting students. We are proposing to end collection of the PIRG fee, and (in a separate referendum question) reallocate the funds currently held in trust back to students.

UVSS’ RELATIONSHIP TO PIRGS TIMELINE:

  • 1983: A fee is established to fund BCPIRG (later VIPIRG)
  • 1993: The UVSS membership votes by referendum to enhance their PIRG with a fee increase of 50 cents.
  • 2016-2017: VIPIRG fails to uphold financial accountability standards during an audit, which demonstrated a lack of transparency and proper bookkeeping
  • 2019: The Board passes a motion to hold a referendum on whether or not to continue funding VIPIRG through the fee levy established in 1983/1993. The referendum fails after the VIPIRG proponent fails to submit financial documents to the Electoral Office on time, leading to the Chief Electoral Office to advise the referendum be run again. Shortly after this, VIPIRG severed their relationship with the UVSS, moved off-campus, and rebranded as the Coastal Research and Education Network (CREAN).
  • 2019-2020: The UVSS received no suitable nominations for a replacement to VIPIRG, and decides to hold another referendum to end the PIRG Fee Levy
  • 2020: The UVSS Board passes a motion to hold a referendum to stop the collection of the PIRG fee and to reallocate the funds held in trust. The referendum fails to meet quorum, and the UVSS consults legal to work towards an appropriate solution.

Vote Yes to Use PIRG Funds Currently Held in Trust to Go Towards Students

Question: “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, finance@uvss.ca

WHAT WILL THE FUNDS IN TRUST GO TOWARDS? 

As of January 15, 2021, the amount of student fees being held in trust (kept in a separate account) totals $192,623. 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 so it supports students. We would like to split the current fund evenly between: (1) a newly-created student bursary and/or a student award, and (2) the UVSS operating fund.  

By voting yes to this question, you are ensuring that these remaining PIRG funds can benefit students!

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! 

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