CALPIRG and MTS Referenda Pass, Graduate Student Fee Increase Fails

This past Friday, April 13, the A.S. Election Committee announced the 2018 election results for next academic school year’s A.S. Council. Along with the winners, the committee also reported on the referendums in question regarding the Student Transportation Fee, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), and the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

This year’s undergraduates yielded with a 27.69% voter turnout while graduates turned out with 19.75%, with a 26.12% combined voter turnout. Campaigning as an uncontested slate, EMPOWER’s candidates were elected into office, with Kiara Gomez serving as the 2018-2019 A.S. Council President, Daron Woods as Vice President of Campus Affairs, Caroline Siegel Singh as Vice President External, Kenji Asakura, Emma Potter, and Daniela Salazar as Campus Wide Senators, Kelly Morris for Off-Campus, Sabrina Callihan for Social Sciences, and Johnny Echavarria for Arts and Humanities.

Along with announcing the newly elected A.S. Council and College Councils, A.S. Election Manager Michelle Nguyen reported the results for the proposed referendums.

The Student Transportation Fee Referendum, which called for an increase to the current fee by $11.56 as well as a six-year extension, passed 5808 to 2270. The increase will allow students to continue to use San Diego’s public transportation services such as MTS and the San Diego Trolley, which will also allow students to use the trolley when the rail is extended to reach campus. In addition, students will be allowed to use a mobile app for their U-Pass without the need for a sticker on their student IDs.

Other referendums in question included the Graduate Student Association, which also called for an increase, but however, was not passed with 804 to 429 votes. If passed, the referendum would have increased the GSA fee by $19.90 for each graduate student, raising the fee from $12.00 to $31.90, a 165% total increase. 29% of the fees would have been used towards financial aid for graduate students with the remaining 71% to have been used for student programming, such as support for graduate student organizations as well as events.

Lastly, the CALPIRG Voluntary fee referendum passed alongside the Student Transportation Fee. The referendum will give students an option via Student Business Services to contribute to CALPIRG and once students opt in, the fee would be collected quarterly for the duration of the student’s enrollment unless they choose to opt out of the pledge later on. The collected fees would be used and directed towards allowing CALPIRG to hire full-time staff to support lobbying efforts and aid in decision making so that student can work alongside decision makers in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

The passed referendums will be enacted next year and the newly elected A.S. council representatives will term in before the start of 2018-2019 school year.