Partner benefits referendum passes

University students voted to pass four of the five referenda that appeared on the spring election ballot this week, rejecting only the statement "Greg is delightful."

An overwhelming majority of voters -- 74 percent -- favored a student-initiated referendum supporting same-sex domestic partner benefits. The referendum, spearheaded by fourth-year College student Blair Reeves, was supported by 4,158 students, while 1,467 students voted against it.

The Queer Student Union was among various student groups that officially endorsed the referendum and helped garner the 900 required signatures to get a student-initiated referendum on the ballot, according to Queer Student Union Co-President Luke Ward.

"U.Va. isn't historically a very activist or liberal place, and the fact that [about] 75 percent of students were in support [of the referendum] shows it's a mainstream opinion in our generation," Ward said. "I think most college students are in favor of gay rights across the board -- it's more of a generational gap between us and people who control the state legislatures."

Ward said he expects the referendum's passage to impact decisions of University administrators.

"I'm not optimistic it will do anything on the state level, but I am optimistic that the [Board of Visitors] and President Casteen will take it to heart," he said.

Current Council President Daisy Lundy expressed her enthusiasm for student-supported policy changes.

"I'm thrilled -- it really was a student initiative and a grassroots effort," Lundy said. "The referendum allowed students who wanted their voices to be heard the opportunity to be heard."

By another overwhelming majority -- 83 percent -- students voted in favor of a referendum to alter Council voting procedures. The item restricts the executive vice president from voting except in the case of a tie, and grants other Council officers the same voting privileges as other Council members.

Results of the referendum -- 4,236 students voted in favor of the measure while 873 rejected it -- were not certified and thus not released with the other certified results, University Board of Elections Chair Brian Cook said.

"The certification of this referendum is contingent on approval by the Rules and Ethics Board of Student Council," Cook said.

He added that the UBE did not certify the referendum because UBE officials determined they are not the proper authority to decide internal matters for Council.

Students also voted by a large majority -- 74 percent -- to pass a referendum granting voting privileges to the first-year class president and transfer student liaison. A similar measure passed the student body in the fall but was deferred by Council over constitutionality issues.

The measure was passed by 3,640 students and voted down by 1,296 students.

Ninety percent of students passed a referendum initiated by the Class Trustees Program, which requires student approval to institute constitutional updates.

The referendum was supported by 783 students, while 96 students voted against the measure.

The "Greg is delightful" referendum, initiated by third-year College student Jonathan Soma, was supported by 2,433 students and voted down by 2,660 students.

Soma said the referendum had no coherent purpose.

"The fact that it did not pass is indicative of the fact that people are evil and hard and they like to vote things down, and that's a very sad thing," Soma said.

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