Bardia+Cat Wins (USC Elections 2019)

Bardia+Cat celebrate their elections win in The Spoke, Feb. 7, 2019.

Western students elected Bardia+Cat 2019 as their 2019-20 president and vice-president of the University Students’ Council, besting the presidents of the USC’s two largest faculties.

The team won with 4,277 votes, beating rival slate Team ForYe, who finished with 3,049 votes.

“This has been an incredible experience,” said Bardia Jalayer, president-elect.

“It's been like a rollercoaster,” echoed vice-president-elect, Catherine Dunne. “I’m so frickin' grateful to everyone who supported us along the way.”

The team said they are most excited to make a difference on this campus and represent students, especially when it comes to Ontario Student Assistance Program changes.

Bardia+Cat ran on a platform focused on their experiences as students, attempting to reflect the real challenges and concerns on campus.

“I wish [ForYe] all the best and I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to meet them,” said Jalayer.

Jalayer's parents attended the announcement and said they were proud of the team and the campaign they ran.  

“We are excited to start working with them and start transitioning them,” Mitch Pratt USC president said. “I send my congratulations to them.”

ForYe falls short

Frank Ye and Jared Forman, presidents of the Social Science and Science Students’ Councils, lost the PVP elections by 1,200 votes, or 17 per cent of the vote.

“The reward of it is the students we met, the people we got to talk to, and the people who really believed in us,” said Ye. “[Bardia+Cat] will do great.”

Forman echoed his partner, saying the campaign was a memorable experience.

“We’re so proud of all the work we’ve put in,” he said. “All the students we met...it was an incredible experience that cannot be paralleled.”

PVP turnout sees modest increase

Voter turnout for the USC PVP election was 24.3 per cent, a 1.3 per cent increase from last year.

The EGC announced that of 32,955 eligible students, 8,020 voted. Last year, voter turnout was 23 per cent, a 5 per cent decrease from the previous year’s 27.9 per cent.

Though turnout increased, current president Mitchell Pratt said it could be higher, in light of a provincial government proving itself hawkish on education.

“I think it’s a small increase but considering the provincial considerations, I’m a little worried about student engagement on campus,” said Pratt. “I think there’s some fundamental things we need to start thinking about with the USC, as well in association with the student buy-ins.”

USC referendum results declared invalid

The results of this year’s referendums are in: there are none.

The referendum question asked students if the separate fees for the health and dental plans should increase by nine per cent for two years and then return to the existing five per cent, per year cap on increases.

If both referendums passed, both the health and dental plans would have increased in the first year by approximately $13, and increased in the second year by about $14.

However, because the ballot did not include the option to abstain from the referendum without spoiling it, the elections governance committee invalidated the results.

According to bylaw two, section 10.1, electors must be able to abstain from any or all segments of the ballot. The referendum questions did not allow for abstention.

8,020 students voted in the referendums. Since the questions were mandatory, this is also the total number of students who voted.

This year, the combined health-dental fee was $272.97, the largest section of the up to $867 the University Students' Council can collect from students. Students can opt-out, but must pay a $3.50 administrative fee if they do. Seventy per cent of students paid for the coverage in 2017-18, totalling $4.7 million.

The questions were introduced during the USC’s November council meeting and were accompanied by a presentation on the trust that funds the health and dental coverage.

The presenters discussed a number of problems facing the Campus Trust fund that could jeopardize its reserves in the future. Among them were upcoming changes to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, which is becoming a second-payer in Ontarians' health expenses — meaning the USC's coverage will now pay first, before OHIP contributes if necessary. The reps said the USC would inevitably have to cut back their coverage if the students did not pay more now, allowing council to reach into their savings less frequently.

A full list of elections winners can be found here.

Update (8:28 p.m., Feb. 7): This article was updated with the referendum results.

Update (8:33 p.m., Feb. 7): This article was updated with voter turnout statistics.

Update (8:53 p.m., Feb. 7): This article was updated with a link to the elections' full list of winners.

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