March Referenda 2017: Relevant Information

On March 20-21st during the SRC General Elections, two referenda will be held regarding electoral reform and Bishop's University joining the Union étudiante du Québec.

The Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council (BUSRC) wants the student body to decide whether the BUSRC should change its current voting system, the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system, and replace it with ranked-choice voting (RCV) for elections starting in Fall 2017

Ranked-choice voting (also called instant-runoff voting and Single Transferable Voting (STV) in elections with several vacancies) is a form of preferential voting that allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference.

Ranked-choice works as follows:

All ballots are counted for voters’ first choices. If one candidate receives an outright majority, they win. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated and voters who ranked that candidate first have their ballots instantly counted for their second choice. This process repeats and last-place candidates are eliminated until one candidate reaches a majority and wins. Your second choice vote is used only if your first choice has been eliminated. If there are two people running for one position (or if the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of positions available) then voting is the same as it is now with the FPTP system.

The positives of ranked-choice voting are plentiful. Firstly,

Ranked-choice voting ensures that candidates with the most votes and broadest support win.

Candidates who are opposed by a majority of voters can never win ranked choice voting elections. Secondly,

ranked-choice voting gives you the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying that you will help to elect the candidate you like the least.

Vote splitting no longer exists and you never have to vote for the lesser of two evils when there is another candidate you really like. Thirdly,

your vote is never wasted

If your candidate doesn’t win, your vote counts for the candidate you ranked second and so on. Finally,

ranked-choice voting reduces incentives for negative campaigning

As candidates are encouraged to seek second choice rankings from voters whose favorite candidate is somebody else. Voters are less likely to rank a candidate as their second choice that has issued personal attacks against their favorite candidate. 

Ranked-choice voting upholds “one person, one vote” and has a proven track record. Not only is RCV supported by FairVote, recommended by Roberts’ Rules of Order and used by hundreds of private associations around the world, RCV is the method utilized to pick the leaders of the federal Liberal and Conservative parties of Canada and for national elections in Australia, India, and Ireland. It already is in place in some American cities most notably San Francisco and Minneapolis. Here is a list of universities and student organizations that use RCV:

For a single office, like student body president, RCV helps to elect a candidate more reflective of a majority of students in a single election even when several viable candidates are in the race. When electing more than one candidate, ranked choice voting lets smaller student groups consolidate their support and win representation. When implemented at colleges and universities, ranked choice voting has typically resulted in more diverse legislative bodies, greater student engagement, and increased turnout.

If you have any more questions and/or would like to find out more about Ranked choice Voting please contact:

On March 20-21, your Students’ Representative Council (SRC) will hold a referendum to ask you if you are interested to join the Québec Student Union (QSU/UEQ) for a $4.56/semester fee.

A strong union to defend your vision!

What is the Québec student union?

QSU is a non-profit organization comprised of 72 000 university students across Québec. It influences policy makers in Ottawa and Québec on their behalf.

Why is the SRC holding a referendum?

Your local student union (SRC) is considering becoming a member of QSU so it can better advocate for its membership. But the final decision belongs to you, the student.

What will the membership dues will be used for? 

  • Research
  • Political activities
  • Member services
  •  Administration

How would joining QSU would impact Bishop’s University and the SRC?

Bishop’s students haven’t been members of an organization like the Québec Student Union for about a decade, their voice not shaping Canada and Québec’s education policies, their needs and wants not being heard by other Students’ Representative Councils across the province.

QSU is a young organization and we are seeking strong voices at the table to represent the diversity of Quebec post-secondary education.

Why do we need a voice to advocate to governments?

Because local associations (such as the SRC) do a great job representing student interests on their campus, but they don’t have the access to the policy makers in Québec and Ottawa. However, many topics that impacts students directly are decided by these policy makers:

  • Extra fees charged to international students
  • Government funding grid that negatively impacts a liberal arts school like Bishop’s
  • Reform to financial aid programs for students (both provincial and federal)
  • Quebec public hearing to prevent sexual violence on campus

What are the topics QSU’s working on?

Here are a few examples of our priorities this year:

  • Increase public funding to financial aid programs for post-secondary students
  • International student scholarship fees
  • Sexual consent and sexual violence
  • Mental health issues
  • Proper funding for universities
  • Sustainable development training and empowerment programs
  • Paid mandatory internships

What would be the direct benefit for Bishop’s students?

  • Having a voice around the table
  • Equalization fund
  • Access to funding for local and social initiatives
  • Partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA)

Apart from taking an active part in shaping student’s policies, there would be other benefits for you.

First, joining QSU does not come with hidden fees for students. The Student Representative Council meets the requirement to fully benefit QSUs equalization program, a program that would pay for transportation and the lodging of the SRC delegates to our activities and caucuses. So there would be no hidden additional costs for students beyond the basic membership fee due to the travel funds.

QSU also has a special fund for student unions from university not in Montréal or Québec city. Its purpose is to provide funding for locally held campaigns, in order to increase their reach and help associations to achieve their local goals. As an example, your SRC could use this money for a locally held campaign against sexual violence or to fund a research about mental health services on the campus. The choice belongs to you.

Here are the projects actually supported by the fund:

  • Research about student volunteering
  • Support to formation sessions for student representatives
  • Gathering information about student services offered on delocalized campus

Joining the QSU also means joining an association with a strong partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). In an effort to strengthen university students’ advocacy efforts, we are developing a partnership with CASA to advocate for common issues at the federal level, making our two voices stronger.

Finally, through our Resources for Social Action Fund (RSAF), we provide funding for campaigns that are led by student groups instead of a national organization. It’s through this mechanism that we are supporting Education students in their efforts to have a monetary compensation for their mandatory internships. We are financing their campaign (CRAIES) without taking the leadership off their hands. We’ve also been supportive of graduate psychology students (FIDEP) in their recent victory to have their final year internship paid for.

If you have any questions and/or would like to find out more about Ranked choice Voting please contact:

Ananya Srivastava