Despite concerns about increasing student fees, the PLEDGE referendum passed with a narrow margin Thursday night.
The referendum, Practicing Leadership and Empowerment to Develop Growth thru Education, garnered 50.3 percent of the student vote ““ a firm divide in a year with record voter turnout.
Supporters of the Students First! slate, who were huddling in a large circle on the steps in Meyerhoff Park, broke out in a deafening cheer as they heard the results. Bruins United supporters were gathered nearby in silence.
While Students First! and SERVE endorsed the referendum, Bruins United remained neutral.
The referendum will increase student fees by $12.75 per quarter to benefit a coalition of seven student groups, including the UCLA Communications Board, which publishes the Daily Bruin. Other groups it will support include the Student Initiated Access Committee, the Community Programs Office and the UCLA Marching Band, among others.
Of the groups, The Bruin stands to benefit the most from the referendum’s passage.
“I think its amazing (the referendum) passed,” said USAC President-elect Cinthia Flores, who ran with the Students First! slate. “Especially in these economic times, we need to support these groups that contribute to the greatness of our campus.”
Bruins United candidates and supporters declined to comment on the passage of the referendum.
In recent years, elections that have featured a student referendum have received a higher voter turnout, said Mike Cohn, a former Elections Board adviser.
In order to get on the ballot, a student referendum must comply with university policies and gain the approval of the chancellor, Cohn added.
D’Juan Farmer, the Financial Supports commissioner-elect and a Students First! candidate, will help manage next year’s student funds.
Farmer said he supported the passage of the referendum despite the increase in student fees.
“It’s great that students understand the financial burden and are willing to give more back,” he said.
Cohn said he agreed that the collaboration of student efforts helped to pass the referendum.
“They have really done their homework in advance to gain the support of many campus organizations before they put it on the ballot,” Cohn said.
With reports from Ravi Doshi, Bruin reporter.