King's will have canteen vote — again

Students’ Union chair called the referendum question out of order and the results void


Councillors vote on whether to overrule Etherington's decision. Photo by: Dylan Matthias

The King's Students' Union will have to have another referendum on the canteen it wants to open.

Council Chair Dave Etherington wasted no time in giving his decision on the afternoon of Jan. 15. Due to a mistake in the question on the first referendum, King's students will have to vote again.

Etherington read a ruling declaring last week's referendum question out of order, and the result void.

The KSU had already decided to hold the referendum, so it will have to have all King's students vote again within three weeks.

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KSU chair Dave Etherington reads his ruling to council. Photo by: Dylan Matthias

A question then and now


The previous question read:

Be it resolved that a $14 levy be collected from all full time students of the University of King's College for the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 academic years to be used to help fund the HMCS King's Galley. Be if further resolved the King's Students' Union dissolve its $83,380.45 GIC to be used as start up funding for the HMCS King's Galley.

The new question will read:

Be it resolved that a $14 levy be collected from all full-time students of the University of King's College for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years to be used to found the HMCS King's Galley. Be it further resolved that the King's Students Union dissolve its $83,380.45 GIC to be used as the start-up funding for the HMCS Galley.

Etherington had embargoed the results of the original Jan. 11 and 12 referendum after a student complained about the wording of the question. Not even councillors will know how King's students feel about the issue until at least Feb. 5.

"I think the ruling that's been delivered by the chair is a fair one," said KSU President Gabe Hoogers. "It's one that reflects the will of council but which also respects our voters' right to know exactly what they're voting for."

Under the original question, current students would have been charged the levy this year. That levy would have been extremely difficult for the KSU to collect, given that the deadline to pay tuition and fees passed on Jan. 13.

The question had been crafted earlier in the school year, before substantial delays in establishing the canteen. Now it's too late to collect a levy this year, according to Financial Vice-President Nicholas Gall.

Hoogers called it the "biggest collective mistake I've witnessed in a long time. When reading over the question, people just grew accustomed to seeing the number that had been there in the beginning."

Not all councillors happy

Etherington's ruling wasn't unopposed. Ten of 15 councillors challenged his decision, but KSU policy requires 75 per cent of councillors (12 of the 15) onside to overturn a chair's decision.

Noah White made the motion to challenge Etherington.

"Because this is a very extreme issue, it should be challenged as to what the will of council is," said White, a day student rep who's also on the committee to open the canteen.

"I decided to announce my decision at council so councillors would have an ability to exercise their legislative right to overrule me," said Etherington.

"You always have to disappoint someone, which no one wants to do," he said.

"It comes to a question between what is the most pragmatic thing to do and what is the most procedurally correct thing to do," said Hoogers. "Obviously there are a lot of emotions going into this and people on council are extremely committed to having the idea of having a canteen open as soon as possible.

"Although some councillors are dissatisfied we're doing the most prudent thing. A couple of weeks, a month down the road nobody will notice, but we will know we've done the most procedurally correct thing," said Hoogers.

KSU still hopeful

There will be a canteen in the Wardroom at King's regardless of the outcome of the referendum, but if the KSU wants to run it, it will need a yes vote from the student body, and it will need quorum.

The first referendum reached quorum early on Jan. 12.

The KSU will put up posters, explain what happened again, and why students need to vote - again. Hoogers said the vote will likely happen within a week of the decision. The longest council can wait is three weeks.

"I think we'll get quorum again. I hope that [the mistake] doesn't act against us in any way," said White.

He said he wonders if the students will trust the KSU. "We might not be absolutely prepared for this, because this isn't the first mistake," said White. "I hope this doesn't discredit us."

"It really serves as an important lesson to us to be sure that we're proceeding in the most fair and prudent way possible," said Hoogers.

I just wanted to open it as quickly as I possibly could and it's been delayed for months and months and months," said White. "This is just another delay I'm not excited about."



Comments on this story are now closed

Why not release the names of which councillors voted which way?

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