Referendum voters last week chose to remain connected with Main Campus.
In what many pundits (POLS students) are calling “the tightest vote in years”, the residents and staff of Queen’s University’s self-described “little tumour”, West Campus, voted 51.2% to 48.8% against independance. The referendum had been dominating student discussion across campus for a couple of hours before the results came in.
The decision comes as a crushing defeat to James Trout and the the West Campus National Congress, the party behind the independence movement. “Clearly, Westies have made their decision. But we will continue to work tirelessly to improve the lives of this strong, noble people that occupy this deserted wasteland,” said Trout from a press conference at QP.
Many believed the “Yes West” campaign was going to turn out victorious, especially in the early days of the campaign, where they continuously polled from 55-60% in their favour. However, in the last couple of weeks leading up until the referendum date, the “no” campaign, lazily named “Yeah, Sure You Can Stay”, began to gain ground. Many prominent Queen’s administration members publicly spoke out against West independance, with Principal Woolf giving a teary speech, pleading with Westies to “use judgement and careful consideration when making your choice” and “remember everything Queen’s has done for you”. Unfortunately the speech was broadcast only on QTV’s livestream, so no one saw it.
The economic disadvantages to West leaving the union were well discussed, as the independent West was considering still using Queen’s student cards and meal plans, a plan which Queen’s would have rejected had independance been achieved. SLC student cards seem to be out of the question, due to their market instability. As well, the name of the campus would have come in debate upon separation, with the leading choice for the new name being, simply, Campus.
Queen’s and West Campus have been a singular institution since 1969, when the university annexed the campus, which had been a proud independent nation for a hundred years previous, with its main economic engine being prison farms. Independence movements on West have surfaced before, but never to the fever pitch as in the early 2010. In what was pinned in the media as “super ballsy”, Woolf announced in 2012 that he would be scheduling a referendum on the issue for 2014. Many thought that this was an arrogant proposition that narrowly avoided blowing up in his face, with some speculating that Woolf would resign had West separated. Woolf continued to hold strong and firm in his anti-independence stance throughout the campaign. When asked by reporters in January what lengths he would go to to keep West in the union, he replied “just watch me”.
Voter turnout for the referendum was much higher than usual, peaking well above the university voting average at 18.4%.