February 23, 2007

The UManitoba Engineering Referendum - The Latest

The University of Manitoba Engineering Society Council passed the following motion last night:

MOTION — UMES COUNCIL MEETING 07R-15
Title: Tuition Surcharge Referendum
Mover: UMES Executive
Seconder: (Not Required)
WHEREAS the Faculty of Engineering is currently experiencing a funding shortfall that cannot be resolved directly by the means of the Faculty.
WHEREAS the Faculty of Engineering has requested that UMES determine if undergraduate engineering students support a proposal to add a per-credit-hour tuition fee surcharge for Engineering courses in an effort to maintain the quality of our academic programs.
WHEREAS the Faculty of Engineering has provided the UMES Executive with a copy of the tuition surcharge proposal, which will be displayed to UMES Council and UMES members at the February 21, 2007 UMES Council Meeting.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT UMES Council carry out a referendum to determine the will of the members of UMES, the undergraduate students of the Faculty of Engineering, with respect to the following questions:

  1. I support a tuition fee surcharge to raise the per credit hour fee for Engineering courses to a maximum of $144 per credit hour (maximum $40 per credit hour for courses offered by the CIVL, ECE, ENG, and MECH departments, maximum $17 per credit hour for courses offered by the BIOE department) to be utilized as described in the “Proposal to Increase Engineering Student Fees” to provide the Faculty of Engineering with the resources to maintain the quality of its undergraduate programs, with the following understandings:
     That all funds collected from the surcharge will return to the Faculty of Engineering to address its budgetary shortfall.
     That the surcharge will significantly contribute to reducing the budgetary stress on the Faculty but does not address all of the needs of the Faculty.
     That the University will also approach the Province for funding, in an attempt to minimize the financial stresses placed on students through this surcharge.
     That international students shall pay the same surcharge as Canadian students, and that this surcharge shall not be subject to any differential increase.
     That should the provincial government’s tuition freeze policy be lifted, another referendum shall be held to revisit this issue and determine a course of action.
    YES/NO

  2. My engineering education has been negatively impacted by the current level of funding provided to the Faculty of Engineering.
    YES/NO

BIFRT the Chief Returning Office (CRO) for the referendum shall be Jane Polak Scowcroft, as appointed by the Senior Stick per the UMES Constitution.
BIFRT voting shall take place on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 and Wednesday, 7 March 2007 from 08:30-16:30 each day at a location to be announced on posters around the EITC. A week of campaigning shall take place before the first day of voting, beginning on Monday, 26 February 2007 at 18:00 and ending on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 18:00. A forum shall be held on Monday, 28 February 2007 at 12:30 at a location to be announced.
BIFRT members of UMES shall not use Society resources (Council office space, funds, etc.) for campaign purposes, except as provided for in the Standing Rules and Constitution, and no campaigning shall take place in the UMES Council offices.
BIFRT a set of Standing Rules (see attached), as developed jointly and approved by the CRO and UMES Executive to supplement Article X of the UMES Constitution, be adopted to govern this referendum.

The following are standing rules that, in addition to the current rules outlined in the University of Manitoba Engineering Society Constitution, will regulate the upcoming tuition surcharge referendum.

Timeline

  1. The following timeline shall be adhered to during this current referendum:
    a. Candidate’s Meeting – Friday, February 23rd at 5:30pm
    b. Approval of Campaign Materials (done electronically) – before Monday, February 26th at 5pm
    c. Stamping of Campaign Materials – Monday, February 26th at 5pm
    d. Information Session 1 – Monday, February 26th at 11:30am
    e. Campaign Period Begins – Monday, February 26th at 6pm
    f. Information Session 2 – Tuesday, February 27th at 11:30am
    g. Referendum Forum – Wednesday, February 28th at 12:30pm
    h. Campaign Period Ends – Monday, March 5th at 6pm
    i. Voting – Tuesday and Wednesday, March 6th and 7th, from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm
    j. Ratification of Results – Thursday, March 8th at 8pm (appeals period expires)

CRO

  1. The responsibility of the CRO shall be to oversee all electoral logistics, including:
    a. running the referendum safely, fairly, and in accordance with the UMES Constitution and policies;
    b. assigning duties to the Deputy Returning Officer(s)(“DRO”);
    c. organizing polls during the referendum, including appointing adequate poll staff;
    d. overseeing the physical count of the ballots during the referendum;
    e. reporting the result of an election/referendum to the appropriate parties; and
    f. enforcing budgetary regulations.
  2. The responsibilities of the DROs shall include:
    a. carrying out the duties assigned to them by the CRO; and
    b. assisting the CRO in the completion of his or her duties.

Selection of Campaign Teams

  1. Any group of students interested in running a campaign (“Campaign Team”) will enter the Team’s name and position (“yes” or “no”) into a randomized draw at the candidate’s meeting.
  2. Up to two Campaign Teams for each position (up to two “yes” and up to two “no”) will be randomly selected, and these are the only Campaign Teams that shall be approved for official campaigning.
  3. Only Society Members (“all undergraduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba”), Associate Members and Honorary Members of UMES shall be members of Campaign Teams and participate in campaign activities.

Campaign Materials and Expenses

  1. All campaign materials must be approved in form, content, and cost by the CRO before they may be used in a campaign.
  2. Campaign materials include all materials that support a Campaign Team’s position, including, but not limited to, posters, banners, flyers and websites.
  3. The CRO shall not approve campaign materials which:
    a. contain libel or slander (based on consultation with legal counsel if necessary);
    b. are factually incorrect;
    c. violate any federal or provincial statute, or any University rule, regulation, policy, or procedure; or
    d. are sexist, racist, homophobic or prejudicial.
  4. Official Campaign Team referendum content may be hosted on the UMES website under http://www.umes.mb.ca/referendum and sub folders. Such content will conform to the following regulations:
    a. no scripts (HTML only; no php, etc);
    b. audio/video content is not allowed to be directly hosted, only embedded (such as from YouTube, etc.); and
    c. all individual files must be less than 500 kB, with the total site content less than 10MB.
  5. Official Campaign Teams shall provide the CRO with:
    a. the complete contents of the proposed campaign material, including text, images and its appearances on final presentation; and
    b. the complete expenses of all campaign materials.
    i. In the absence of records of expenses for campaign materials, or for donated material/gifts-in-kind, etc., campaign material will be assessed at fair market value as determined by the CRO.
  6. Official Campaign Teams will each have a campaign material expense limit of $100. UMES shall reimburse Campaign Teams’ approved expenses, up to an amount of $30, from the Senior Stick’s discretionary fund.
  7. Any Campaign Team that violates campaign expense limits will have all campaign materials removed from the EITC.
  8. E

ach Campaign Team shall be limited to 50 posters per Engineering building

UMSU is responding with its own motion:

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There is a great amount of outrage among Engineers about the interference of the CFS and UMSU in their affairs.

The Engineering Society Senior Stick (President) [Sometime I will make a post explaining why UManitoba Faculty Associations used the term Senior Stick] appointed Jane Polak Scowcroft as the CRO for this referendum.  Scowcroft is an Engineering student who has an impressive wealth of experience in UManitoba student politics both in the UMES and UMSU.  She served as a member of UMSU Council when I was on Council.  She did a very impressive job on Council and made no foes during her time there.  She always came to viewpoints after looking at all sides of an issue.  I believe that she is a very good choice for CRO and will be fair in the execution of her duties.

The website for the Referendum (which will link to all official side sites) is: http://www.umes.mb.ca/referendum/

This having been said, the process of appointment is something that I am not comfortable with (in line with my normal position on these matters) and needs to be reviewed at a future opportunity.

This referendum is definitely going to make the national news outside of the student media.  It is already out on the blogosphere here: http://treotrio.blogspot.com/2007/02/ndp-post-seco…, a few other blogs that are Engineering student blogs at UManitoba hence a lot of them have taken down awaiting the start of the campaign.