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GSA referendum fails to pass due to low voter turnout

By Jillian Beck

April 16, 2013 10:42 p.m.

A quarterly fee increase referendum to support the Graduate Writing Center failed to pass in this year’s graduate student government election, after voter turnout fell short of 10 percent by just seven votes, according to election officials.

The referendum, which would have increased graduate student fees by $1.50 per quarter to provide funding for the financially struggling Graduate Writing Center, garnered 66 percent of the vote, said Daniel Goodman, Graduate Student Association commissioner of elections.

Of 11,343 eligible graduate student voters, only 1,128 voted in the election.

This is the second year in a row that a fee increase referendum to help fund the writing center failed to pass in the Graduate Student Association election because of low voter turnout. Last year, about 8 percent of eligible graduate students voted, compared to 9.94 percent this year.

An advisory referendum asking for student opinion about changes to UCLA’s leave of absence policy for graduate students was also on this year’s ballot. Goodman said only fee increase referendums depend on a voter turnout threshold.

Last fall, UCLA stopped allowing students to take time off to write dissertations. The university also decreased the number of quarters a student could be on leave from six to three.

About 70 percent of voters said they supported UCLA’s leave of absence policy before fall 2012, while about 10 percent said they support the current policies and 20 percent said they would prefer a redesigned policy.

The four elected GSA positions – president, vice president of internal affairs, vice president of external affairs and vice president of academic affairs – were all uncontested for the second year in a row.

Nicole Robinson, a graduate student in Italian and current vice president of academic affairs, was elected president. Nina Drucker, a law student, was elected vice president of internal affairs. Hope McCoy, an education and information studies doctoral student, was elected vice president of external affairs. Cody Trojan, a political science doctoral student, was elected vice president of academic affairs.

The election results must be officially approved by the GSA at its May 8 forum meeting, according to Goodman.

Compiled by Jillian Beck, Bruin senior staff.

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