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Referendum

What is a referendum?

A referendum is a non-binding question or issue put on the ballot for vote by the undergraduate student body.

Who can sponsor a referendum?

Any individual who is a full-time undergraduate student at Boston College in good academic and disciplinary standing may sponsor a referendum.

How do I go about sponsoring a referendum?

In an effort to facilitate and streamline the process by which a referendum is added to the ballot, a series of guidelines and procedures have been developed. Please see the referendum code and associated documents below for detailed information.

Elections Referendum Code

Preamble:
Students have the right to bring issues forward to the University community during the election season.  Any undergraduate, full time student may propose a non-binding referendum that will be voted on during the Undergraduate Government of Boston College election season. Student(s) who propose a referendum must follow the established procedures set forth by the Elections Committee.

Article I: The Role of the Elections Committee

Section 1: The Elections Committee

The Elections Committee (hereafter referred to as “The EC”) shall serve as a non-biased body.
The EC is responsible for verifying the signatures obtained by the student(s) looking to put forth a referendum proposal to the undergraduate body.
The EC shall hold office hours for approval of referendum materials and general questions during the Presidential election period.  An email address (elect@bc.edu) must be made accessible to contact individuals for communication with the EC.  Office hours of the EC must be posted on the EC website (www.bc.edu/elections).
For a complete listing of the EC responsibilities during the election season, please see Article I of the Election Code.

Article II: Qualifications and Regulations

Section 1: Contact Person Qualifications

Referendums must be submitted by full-time Boston College undergraduate students in acceptable academic standing or receive administrative approval. Contact person(s) must also be in good disciplinary standing with the university.
Within a group of students who are supporting a referendum, at least one, and no more than five, Boston College undergraduate student(s) must be designated as the contact persons for the referendum. If more than one contact person is listed, the contact people will need to identify the primary contact person.
The contact person(s) are responsible for submitting the referendum and all associated paperwork and forms.

Section 2: Regulations

All those submitting, signing, and publicizing referenda must be fulltime undergraduate students of Boston College.
The UGBC Constitution states that “proposed resolutions must receive the signatures of at least 1/8 of the undergraduate student body by petition.” (VII.2.2).
There may only be one referendum advocacy group per referendum question.
Candidatess may not be sponsored or endorsed by off-campus businesses or organizations. Newspapers that are produced on a regular basis, focused on campus news, and available to the public are exempt from this (i.e. The Heights, The Observer, and The Gavel).

No current UGBC President, Vice President or cabinet member may endorse a referendum in his or her capacity as an elected or appointed official.
Referendum groups may not endorse a UGBC Presidential, Vice Presidential, or Senatorial candidate.  Candidates may, however, endorse a referendum.
The referendum timeline, with all pertinent dates and information, will be announced annually by the EC by October 15th, and will be available at www.bc.edu/elections.
All steps and regulations outlined in the referendum code must be followed within the designated timeline, in order for a referendum question to appear on the ballot.

Article III: Proposing a referendum

1. Step 1: Declaration of intent
Any group wishing to put a referendum question on the ballot must complete an intent form which is available at www.bc.edu/elections.

Intent forms will be accepted by the EC Advisors in the Student Programs Office at any point until the announced deadline.  Note: Referendum intent forms must be for the current academic year.  Any forms handed in during the spring semester that aim to be on the ballot for the next academic year will be considered void.
Once intent forms are handed in, the contact person(s) will receive information on how to petition for a referendum question to be put on the ballot and will receive copies of the official referendum petition form.

2. Step 2: Question approval

After handing in the intent form, the group must submit the official text of their referendum question to the EC for review.  The purpose of this review is to ensure that the question is clear and contains no objectionable material.
The EC reserves the right to reword the final submitted referendum question to ensure that it is clear and unbiased.
Referendum questions must be “yes / no” questions.
Referendum questions must be submitted to the elections committee via email (elect@bc.edu) by a date announced by the elections committee.

3. Step 3: Petitioning for signatures
The first stage of proposing a referendum is the petitioning phase.  During this phase, the referendum group may gather the number of signatures necessary to put their question on the ballot.  There are some restrictions on the methods they may use to do this, which will be discussed in this section.

 

1. Timeline

The petitioning phase will start on a date specified by the EC, and will last until the beginning of the campaigning phase.  Petitioning may not begin before the official start date.
Only groups who have submitted their intent form and gotten their question approved may participate in petitioning.

2. Guidelines
A. General

All contact person(s) will abide by the Boston College Student Guide and all additional written guidelines provided by the EC.
All contact person(s) shall be responsible for assuring that his/her referendum group is fully acquainted with the Elections and Referendum Codes and the regulations of the EC and of the University.
Campaigning is not permitted in the presence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Campaigning in the residence halls must follow the rules and regulations of Residential Life as well as:

They may only take place between the hours of 8am and 10pm.

No official UGBC or SOFC resource, publication, or funds may be used to further any referendum.  This shall include, but is not limited to, the UGBC website.

B. Signatures and Petitions

During the petitioning phase, referendum groups are permitted to gather the required number of signatures to put their referendum question on the ballot.  Signatures must be gathered only on petitions provided by the EC, all of which will contain the finalized referendum question.
Students may request as many copies of their official petition as they desire, but signatures will only be valid if gathered on these forms and with all the required information.
Each signature must consist of a person’s clearly printed name, their signature, Eagle Identification number and a valid Boston College email address.

Signatures must be gathered only on official petitions provided by the EC
Printed names and Eagle ID numbers must be clearly written; the EC reserves the right to discard a signature if its accompanying name and ID number are so illegible that they are unreadable and can therefore not be verified.

Any person that fails to complete all four categories of the petition will have their name discarded and not count towards the 1/8 undergraduate population necessary for the question to appear on the ballot.
Submission of fraudulent signature(s) may be considered grounds for termination of the referendum by the EC from the ballot.

C. Methods, Posting, and Electronics

During the petitioning phase, referendum groups may assemble a support staff and engage in verbal advocacy for adding their referendum question to the ballot.
Referendum groups may not post, display, or distribute any printed materials during the petitioning phase.  This includes, but is not limited to, flyers, quarter sheets, and banners. Printed materials may only be used during the campaigning phase, and all printed material must be approved by the Elections Committee.
Electronic campaigning is permitted during the petitioning phase on a limited basis.  Although groups may not gather signatures by online means, groups may create a Facebook group at 12:01am on the first day of the petitioning phase or whenever their intent form and finalized question have been approved, whichever is later.

The Facebook group may contain the finalized referendum question and the names and contact information for the referendum group contact people.
Facebook groups may be used to assemble a support staff for the referendum group and to disseminate information to group members.  However, any unsolicited Facebook messaging or any other type of solicitation covered in III.3.2.C.9, is strictly prohibited.
Referendum groups may request people to join their Facebook group.  However, they may do so only once, and may not send repeated requests if their initial request is ignored or denied.
There will be only one Facebook group permitted per referendum group, and the senior EC co-chair must be made an administrator of the Facebook group immediately after it is created.
Facebook must be limited to the BC Network.  No messages can be considered unsolicited if an individual accepts membership to a Facebook group.

Voicemails, emails, text messages, instant messages, podcasts, unsolicited phone calls (i.e. phone banks) and online directory (i.e. MySpace, Friendster, Twitter, etc) messages cannot be used in any way to solicit potential voters.
Contact person(s) cannot use personal information from Agora, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or other online directories to solicit students.
During the petitioning phase, referendum groups may advocate, through the means discussed above, for their referendum question or issue to be placed on the ballot.

Step 4: Campaigning
Provided that a group obtains the required number of signatures in support of placing its referendum question on the ballot, the group may enter the active campaigning phase.  During this period, many of the restrictions of the petitioning phase are relaxed.

 

1. Timeline

The deadline for submitting referendum signatures to the EC will be specified by the EC and released on the Elections Committee website at www.bc.edu/elections.
Referendum signatures must be submitted to the EC Advisor in the Student Programs Office, Maloney Hall (formerly, 21 Campanella Way) Suite 242.
Submitted referendum questions must be turned in with the complete number of signatures as specified by the UGBC Constitution and Referendum Code by a date specified by the EC.
The referendum campaigning phase shall begin on the same day as primary campaigning for UGBC presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

            2. Guidelines
A. General

All contact person(s) and campaign staff/referendum group will abide by the Boston College Student Guide and all additional written guidelines provided by the EC.
All contact person(s) shall be responsible for assuring that his/her referendum group is fully acquainted with the Elections and Referendum Codes and the regulations of the EC and of the University.
Campaigning is not permitted in the presence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Campaigning in the residence halls must follow the rules and regulations of Residential Life as well as:

may only take place between the hours of 8am and 10pm.

The Office of Residence Life may at their discretion, further restrict or disallow campaigning in the halls. An email will be sent to candidates informing them of any changes to the policy

Post fliers on personal doors with the consent of the resident.

Contact person(s) must understand the Residential Life policy that only 1/3 of each personal door in the residence halls may be covered with paper.

No official UGBC or SOFC resource, publication, or funds may be used to further any referendum.  This shall include, but is not limited to, the UGBC website.

B. Preconditions and Vetting

Referendum groups may only enter the campaigning phase if they have gotten the required number of signatures and if that required number of signatures is vetted by the EC.
Once the signatures have been vetted by the EC, the EC co-chairs will reach out to the contact individuals for the referendum question to inform them that their petitions are valid and that they may begin campaigning. Similarly, if the signatures are not approved by the EC, the co-chairs will also reach out to the contact individuals and inform them of the EC’s findings.

The Elections Committee will review the petition signatures and reach out to the contact individuals in a timely manner.

C. Methods and Posting

During the campaigning phase, referendum groups are entitled to engage in all the same activities that they were in the petitioning phase.
During the campaigning phase, referendum groups may post, display, and distribute printed materials.  The posting policy can be found at http://www.bc.edu/postings.
All campaign paraphernalia must be approved by the EC (including flyers, banners, etc.) during posted EC office hours, after which, materials must be stamped by SPO.  All campaign materials must contain valid Boston College contact information (name and BC e-mail address) for the referendum contact person.
No campaign materials shall be approved which contains slanderous or defamatory statements or anything inconsistent with the Jesuit/Catholic values of Boston College.  If a statement is determined to be slanderous after one EC member has signed a receipt approving release of the material, the contact person(s) is required to retract the material or statement upon request of the EC.
All contact person(s) and campaign staff/referendum group must follow the Posting Policy of the University.
Campaign banners must be home-made.  Professional banners are strictly prohibited. The number of banners allocated to groups in favor of the referendum and opposition groups will be determined in advance each year based on availability of space and the discretion of the EC.  Both groups will be given the opportunity to post an equal number of banners.

Banners will only be allowed in specific locations. Due to high demand, permission to hang in the Gasson Quadrangle will be determined by the EC by a lottery. Other banner hanging locations must also be approved by the EC.

D. Electronic Communication

Once the campaigning phase begins, there are no restrictions on the amount or type of referendum-related information that may be posted on Facebook groups.  However, unsolicited messaging is still strictly prohibited, and the senior EC co-chair must still be an administrator for the group.
Voicemails, emails, text messages, instant messages, podcasts, unsolicited phone calls (i.e. phone banks) and online directory (i.e. MySpace, Friendster, Twitter, etc) messages cannot be used in any way to contact solicit voters.
Contact person(s) cannot use personal information from Agora, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or other online directories to solicit students.

E. Debate

Immediately before the final Presidential and Vice-Presidential debate, referendum groups and their respective opposition groups, should they exist, will be given an opportunity to present a public platform statement lasting no longer than 5 minutes.
Referendum and opposition groups will not be permitted to ask questions of each other or offer rebuttal arguments, nor will they answer any questions from the audience.
These statements will be videotaped and broadcast on BC Cable along with the Presidential/Vice Presidential debate.
The statements must follow all Boston College and EC guidelines.
Should only one referendum group exist, in lieu of a public reading the Elections Committee will distribute the pro and con statements as they will appear on the ballot to individuals in attendance at the debate.

Step 5: Voting
Providing that all previously-stated standards for approval, signatures, and vetting have been met, proposed referendum questions will be added to the final election ballot.

The referendum question will be on the final election ballot.  Voting on the final election ballot must be held over a two class-day period.
There is to be no campaigning in the residence halls or the computer labs during the days of voting

Article IV: Opposing a Referendum

Although BC clubs and organizations may not support or oppose a referendum nominally or financially, students may form an independent opposition group for that purpose.  This group is required to register with the EC and designate a contact person, and it is subject to all of the same regulations that govern referendum groups.  This opposition group will not have its own question on the ballot; its function is solely to advocate against the proposed referendum question.

Only one opposition group is allowed per referendum question.
The opposition group is entitled to the same benefits and must follow all the same regulations as the referendum group; this includes but is not limited to posting and communications restrictions imposed during the petitioning phase.
If an opposition group exists, both the group in favor of a referendum and the opposition group will be given an opportunity to each write a statement less than 75 words explaining their viewpoint which will be posted on ballot and on the Elections Committee website at www.bc.edu/elections.
If no opposition group comes forward, the Student Programs Office will solicit a statement less than 75 words from a member of the BC community which will appear on the ballot and on the Elections Committee website.

 

Article V: Violations of Policy

The EC reserves the right to investigate and sanction violations of EC guidelines and make referrals to ODSD for violations of university policy by referendum groups and opposition groups, and to deal with such violations on a case-by-case basis.
Very serious or repeated violations of policy may result in an administrative review and possible sanctions.
Disrespectful or abusive behavior towards a member of the EC may also result in administrative review and possible sanctions and/or referral to DOS.

 

 

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