Division I Referendum Fails

If passed, the referendum would have been the first step for UCSD to advance from the D-II California College Athletic Association Conference — where it has been since 2000 — to the D-I Big West conference, which includes fellow UC schools such as Santa Barbara, Davis and Irvine.

Students would have paid the fee increase only if the Big West conference accepted UCSD by 2014. The Big West rejected UCSD in December 2010.

“It’s a disappointing result because it feels like the people I represent as an athlete don’t appreciate or respect what I do,” senior track captain Nick Howe said. “It’s not just fun and games. We go out there and it’s hard work, and we’re representing UCSD. Even though we’ve had success, my successes — and by the name on my chest — UCSD’s successes would be and could be so much greater if UCSD was a D-I program.” [Ed. note: Howe is the Guardian’s Associate Sports Editor.]

According to the A.S. Advocate General Courtney Hill, 11, 407 undergraduates (51 percent) voted, with 6470 “no” votes (approximately 60 percent) to 4673 “yes” votes (approximately 40 percent). Of the six colleges, Warren College had the highest voter turnout. Hill said that the 51-percent turnout is the highest in school history, especially as election turnout usually hovers around 20 percent.

The special election saw the referendum become a contentious issue for both sides. A leaked emailed from an athlete urging A.S. Council not to publicize the vote because “we want people to vote, but we only want them to vote ‘yes,’” cast doubts on the neutrality of the campaign, as did an all-campus pro-referendum email sent by former A.S. President Utsav Gupta.

The campus Judicial Board ruled on grievances ­— filed by both the pro and con campaign — based on allegations such as misleading information and inappropriate lobbying. J-Board dismissed both grievances.

A.S. President Alyssa Wing, who ran last year on a slate centered around D-I athletics, said the two-week voting period is partly responsible for the higher turnout. The voting period is usually one week.

Wing added that although she was personally disappointed with the results, she was happy that the student body had the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

“The two-week voting period really helped students mobilize on both sides,” she said. “The percentage of students that showed up was very representative of what students actually wanted. I am genuinely very happy that the democratic process occurred and students were able to vote in this historic campaign.”

Vice President of Student Life Meredith Madnick praised Wing’s efforts and the turnout.

“Alyssa did an amazing job, and even though this is not what we hoped for, the turnout was great and it was a historic event,” Madnick said.

Con campaign leader John Condello said that A.S. Council should never have allowed the D-I referendum to go to a student vote.

“Even though [the con campaign is] happy we won, we’re disappointed that A.S. passed it [to be put on the ballot] in the first place,” Condello said. “I don’t think it’s viable to bring back in the near future.”

Con campaign leader Kevin Quirolo said that he was surprised by the turnout and results, and that the special election is a warm-up for the general election next quarter.

“I wouldn’t be against having the referendum again [next year], as long as there is adequate time to have substantial an educational or informational period before election starts,” Quirolo said. “It’s the responsible way to make a decision.”

Campaigning for the general elections for the 2012-13 A.S. Council has already begun, but Wing said that she does not believe a D-I referendum will reappear soon.

“This [vote] is a pretty definitive answer, and an accurate gauge of feedback,” Wing said. “I don’t know what next year’s council will do because it hasn’t been settled and the people haven’t been voted in, but I don’t see this coming up again in a year.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Chan.