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UL students reject SU referendum proposals

The Daily Shift’s Joel Slattery reports on the recent ULSU referendum in which UL students voted against a proposal for an upgrade of facilities on campus…

University Arena - Home to Ireland's first Olympic size swimming pool, built due to a yes vote in a past referndum

University Arena – Home to Ireland’s first Olympic size swimming pool, built due to a yes vote in a past referndum

The students of the University of Limerick voted against a new student levy which would make way for new facilities in the college. The proposal, which included the upgrade of the Maguire pitches (south campus), a nitghclub and a newly built theatre as part of a new student centre and an extension to the University Arena got 61% of the votes in yesterday’s referendum. However, it needed a two-thirds majority to pass the vote in which over 4,000 students voted in, leaving yes campaigners an agonising 5% short of their target.

The downside to the referendum was the proposed increase in student levy from €72 to €130. Despite this, the student’s union were strongly in favour of the ‘yes’ campaign. Overall, 61% (2,6262 students) voted yes against 1,655 who were against the proposal. The result will be a blow to the students union, who worked tirelessly to get the get the proposal through.

However, the timing of the referendum was possibly a factor, seen as a lot of the voters are struggling to get their college grant through the new SUSI system. That said, the result may be a surprise as their was an absence of a ‘no’ campaign around the campus this week. The result will also be a blow to the clubs and societies of UL, who advocated the ‘yes’ vote and have been working hard to get these projects pushed through for a number of years now.

The ‘no’ voters based their decision on the issue of the increased levy and the fact that Limerick’s university is already considered “Ireland’s sporting campus”. The betterment of the Maguire field was, by some, deemed unnecessary seen as the fields in the North Campus had their official opening recently (with the Limerick/Clare hurling match) just a few weeks ago. Perhaps it was not made clear to the students that the north campus are private lettings, which cost, even for clubs and societies, a significant fee to rent. The upgrade of the McGuires pitches would have been an upgrade to facilities owned by the students.

An in house night-club was another proposal in the vote but as current first years will be doing their finals by the time the building is done,  that was always going to be difficult to sell.

Overall though, the SU will be very disappointed with the universities call not to put through the vote. Interestingly all day the union were confident of passing the referendum – though neutrals were against the increased levy.

Despite this though the record turnout (though less than one third of all UL students) of voters could not reach a definitive decision – meaning the levy in UL will stay the same and the new facilities will not be built.

The decision will be a disappointment for the 61% who voted yes – but a relief for money struck parents.

*Lead image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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