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Holding an SRP Referendum


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Tips and strategies for holding an SRP referendum

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Holding an SRP Referendum

  1. 1. Planning a Referendum January 6 th , 2010 Michelle Manks and Robyn Plasterer
  2. 2. <ul><li>Funding models for the Student Refugee Program vary between schools, but 90% of sponsoring committees collect student levies. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall average (mean) student levy: $3.25/student/year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maximum levy: $20.00/student/year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum levy: $0.00/student/year </li></ul></ul>Introduction
  3. 3. <ul><li>A referendum is a written question that is directed to all students, asking them if they will agree with a compulsory levy to be added to their annual student fees. You can think of the levy operating like a student tax. Just as our government collects taxes, the student government usually collects and administers the SRP student levy. </li></ul><ul><li>Types of levies: </li></ul><ul><li>Undergraduate levies </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate levies </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty levies </li></ul>What is a levy?
  4. 4. What are the benefits? <ul><li>The benefits of an SRP student levy are significant: </li></ul><ul><li>Financial resources for sponsorship are guaranteed from year-to-year; </li></ul><ul><li>Funds are available in cash; </li></ul><ul><li>Students are helping students; </li></ul><ul><li>Referendum campaigns engage the campus on refugee issues; </li></ul><ul><li>When students demonstrate their commitment to the SRP, the university/college administration is more likely to support the program and match funding; </li></ul><ul><li>When funding is in place, a Local Committee can focus on other aspects of the sponsorship, such as supporting the sponsored student and raising awareness on campus about refugee issues; </li></ul>
  5. 5. Are you ready to go to referendum? <ul><li>Preparing for a referendum is like running a campaign. You will need to consider and assess several factors to decide if a referendum is timely for your campus. Key questions to ask include: </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have the support of the student government? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your local committee have a dedicated group of volunteers willing to do campaign outreach and education? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your local committee have a stable structure to ensure ongoing leadership year after year? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you developed an accurate budget for the sponsorship that can show how revenue will be spent? </li></ul>
  6. 6. How much should you ask for? <ul><li>Annual levies across Canada range from less that $1 per student to $20 per student. </li></ul><ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the population of your campus (part time students vs. full time students) </li></ul><ul><li>What types of referendum questions have passed or failed recently on your campus? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you want to do with the funds you raise through your student levy? Where does the levy sit in terms of your SRP budget priorities in relation to other funding sources? </li></ul>
  7. 7. A look at levies by Institution Size Size of Institution Average length of sponsorship (years) Percentage who have levies Average Levy amount ($) 0 – 3500 1.4 94% $5.07 3500 – 9,999 1.39 89% 2.59 10,000 – 20,000 1.53 87% $1.58 +20,000 2.2 93.3% 2.21
  8. 8. A look at Levies by Region Region # of students sponsored % of institutions that have levies AVG levy amount ($) West and Prairies 12 93.9% $ 3.14 Atlantic 9 100% $ 3.42 Ontario and Quebec 32 87.5% $ 2.89
  9. 9. What should you ask? <ul><li>Sample Question #1: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Do you support the World University Service of Canada (WUSC)'s Student Refugee </li></ul><ul><li>Program with a student fee of $1.50 per full-time student per semester and $0.75 per part </li></ul><ul><li>time student per semester?” </li></ul><ul><li>Sample Questions #2: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Do you support increasing the WUSC fee from $1 to $2 per semester?” </li></ul><ul><li>Sample Questions #3: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Do you agree to support the Student Refugee Program of the World University Service of </li></ul><ul><li>Canada with a $0.09 per credit student fee for all Undergraduate Students?” </li></ul><ul><li>Sample Questions #4: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Do you support the introduction of a $4 per year Graduate Student fee for the Student </li></ul><ul><li>Refugee Program of the World University Service of Canada?” </li></ul><ul><li>IMPORTANT: The more open the question is, the less likely your Local Committee will find itself in a situation where the referendum hinders its work on the SRP. This might happen in a case where the question stipulated that only a certain number of students could be sponsored or that the levy funds must be spend on-campus, for example. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Who should you ask? <ul><li>Undergraduate levy vs. Graduate levy </li></ul><ul><li>What is the make-up of your Local Committee? Do you have Graduate student involvement in the SRP? </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty levy </li></ul><ul><li>If you have strong faculty support on campus, consider approaching your university/college faculty association about establishing a faculty levy and/or payroll deductions for the SRP. This option may be most easily achieved by committees that work closely with a faculty advisor who is a strong supporter of the program. </li></ul>
  11. 11. When should you hold your referendum? <ul><li>Consider: </li></ul><ul><li>When are the elections for the student government at your college or university? </li></ul><ul><li>When would your referendum question be most likely to pass? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Know your paperwork! <ul><li>Now is the time to review any agreements you have with your institution and/or student union. These may include: </li></ul><ul><li>Memorandums of Agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Memorandums of Understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Your Club Constitution, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure to read through all of these documents – this may be an ideal time to propose changes or amendments if necessary. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Managing the Funds Before passing the levy, establish an agreement about how the funds will be managed: - Will the LC receive a lump cheque for the money at the beginning of each semester, or will the funds be managed by the administration or student union? Make sure to establish written agreements about this, so that when the money rolls in, you can be accountable and transparent to the student body with regards to how the money is spent.
  14. 14. Working together <ul><li>Try to get other people on board when you’re working on your campaign. Ideas include: </li></ul><ul><li>Your Student Union </li></ul><ul><li>Your sponsored student or past sponsored students </li></ul><ul><li>Candidates running for positions in the student government </li></ul><ul><li>Other groups on campus who are also involved in campaigning for levy funds </li></ul>
  15. 15. Know the rules!! There are a lot of rules surrounding referendum campaigning, and it’s really important that you stick to them because you risk having the question taken off the ballot and disqualification. Referendum questions are thrown out regularly and you need to be careful.
  16. 16. <ul><li>Assign tasks for the referendum campaign, such as coordinator, classroom speaker, public relations person, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Use campus media: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do an interview for campus radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write an article for the campus paper </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set up information booths in strategic locations where there is high traffic of students. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a small handbill or card explaining the issue clearly so people can take it with them when they vote. </li></ul>Tips for success <ul><li>Assign tasks for the referendum campaign, such as coordinator, classroom speaker, public relations person, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Use campus media: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do an interview for campus radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write an article for the campus paper </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set up information booths in strategic locations where there is high traffic of students. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a small handbill or card explaining the issue clearly so people can take it with them when they vote. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>T-shirts and Buttons </li></ul><ul><li>Posters and banners, both before and during the campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Set up a website </li></ul><ul><li>Handbills explaining more about the program (handed out and left on tables) </li></ul><ul><li>Use sidewalk chalk to advertise the program </li></ul><ul><li>Write on the chalkboards in classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Open letters of support (e.g. former sponsored students) </li></ul>Raising Awareness
  18. 18. <ul><li>Class presentations! </li></ul><ul><li>Speakers panels </li></ul><ul><li>Film nights </li></ul><ul><li>Articles in school newspaper </li></ul><ul><li>Interview on campus radio </li></ul><ul><li>Information boards at various events </li></ul><ul><li>Leave information sheets in professors mailboxes </li></ul><ul><li>Compare your school’s funding to other universities </li></ul><ul><li>If possible, involve students who have been sponsored by the program </li></ul>Raising Awareness…
  19. 19. Marketing Your Message <ul><li>Consistency and Brevity are Key! </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your message clear and simple </li></ul><ul><li>Keep all of your marketing tools uniform (same color, font, formatting) </li></ul><ul><li>One bright color (such as orange) can become a synonymous with your campaign on campus </li></ul>
  20. 20. Know the Facts! <ul><li>What is the student refugee program (SRP)? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do the students come from? </li></ul><ul><li>How long do they stay in Canada? </li></ul><ul><li>How much education is the student refugee required to have? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the application process? </li></ul><ul><li>How are the students funded at your institution? </li></ul><ul><li>How often are student’s sponsored? </li></ul><ul><li>Where does the student live? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Know the facts, continued… <ul><li>What is a refugee? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the group that sponsors the student and looks after their needs? </li></ul><ul><li>Where does the money come from? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do our other student fees go? </li></ul><ul><li>How do other Universities compare? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the legal status of the student when they arrive? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the history of this program? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Campaigning! <ul><li>Tell people to VOTE! We can’t emphasize it enough. You need a certain amount of people to vote (yes or no) in order for it to go through. So whenever you’re talking to someone emphasize that it’s actually getting out and voting that’s crucial. </li></ul><ul><li>Get out there! Talk to as many friends and people as possible. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Determine how you will respond to challenging questions (See Referendum Guide for suggestions!) <ul><li>“ I don’t want my tuition money to be used for charity” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Why can’t I choose to support it and have it be optional?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I donate to charity, why should I be forced to donate to this?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It doesn’t benefit me, why should I pay for it?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Refugees have other opportunities, why should it have to come out of my student fees, I already pay a lot. Isn’t it the government’s responsibility?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I already contribute to all these groups, tuition is expensive and I can’t afford it.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Why should I support someone from another country, there’s enough problems here.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I work really hard and no one helps me. Shouldn’t we use this money for Canadian students, we’re poor too.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ There are bigger problems in Africa, should we really be supporting educated people leaving their countries. What about the problem of ‘brain-drain’? ” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Start early </li></ul><ul><li>Build as many partnerships as possible (I.e. with student elections, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Find key faculty to work with </li></ul><ul><li>Make a week-by-week plan </li></ul><ul><li>Show your passion - people pay attention to it! </li></ul><ul><li>Involve as many people as possible (make a campaign guide) </li></ul><ul><li>Educate yourself and your local committee about the issues and the program so you can answer questions </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Referendum Kits </li></ul><ul><li>SRP Guide for a Successful Referendum </li></ul><ul><li>Profiles of former sponsored students </li></ul><ul><li>Fact sheets about the SRP </li></ul><ul><li>Buttons </li></ul><ul><li>Posters </li></ul><ul><li>Sample letters, newspaper articles, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Other LCs – let us know if you want to talk to them directly! </li></ul>Resources
  26. 26. WUSC is here to help! <ul><li>Remember to let WUSC know if you are going to referendum. We can help you with resources, media and put you in touch with other campuses that are going to referendum during the same period as you. Good luck to all the schools running a referendum campaign this year! </li></ul>
  27. 27. Questions?