The third referendum attempt to restructure the GUSA Senate has successfully passed, according to the GUSA Election Commission on Friday, Feb. 23. The commission announced the result on Twitter at 12:29am.
The referendum, attached to Thursday’s executive ballot, was composed of two questions. The first changed the election of GUSA senators to be based on class year, instead of where voters and senators live. It also moved times of senate elections from September to April. According to the commission, 83.1 percent of voters affirmed the restructuring, while 16.91 percent opposed it. A referendum needs a two-thirds margin of support in the GUSA senate and the support of at least 25 percent of the total student body to pass.
The second question updated language of a clause on protections for student participation to include protections for citizenship, gender identity or expression, ability or disability and any characteristics protected under federal or Washington, D.C. law. The commission reported 90.6 percent of votes were “yes” and 9.4 percent of votes were “no.” In both referendum, the total votes were over 2,500, passing the required threshold of 25 percent of the total student body.
The first two attempts to pass the first referendum question on senate restructuring failed. The results of the Dec. 2016 referendum were invalidated by the GUSA Election Commission for constitutional violations, and the second attempt in April 2017 did not reach the 25 percent turnout threshold required to validate the results.
Ben Baldwin, speaker of the GUSA senate said he is “ecstatic” that the reforms won the support of the student body.
“[The restructuring] was long overdue,” Baldwin said. “Moving forward, I think we will see better representation of student interests in the Senate and a more cooperative, integrated relationship with the executive.
Baldwin praised the second referendum question as well for its inclusivity and protection against discrimination that it codifies in the GUSA constitution.
“Every student should feel welcome in the student association and both of these questions worked towards that end,” he said.
The referendum was attached to the executive ballot, the results of which have not been announced as of 12:45am.
Noah Telerski and Katya Schwenk contributed reporting.