For nearly two years, the EMU referendum has been a huge topic of discussion on campus. While most people agree the building is in need of a facelift, the process to get there was fraught with bumps in the road. Friday afternoon marked the historic passing of a referendum that every person on campus has a stake in.
The road to renovation began during the summer of 2011 when the newly appointed ASUO executive caught wind of the administration’s plan to renovate the student union. Wanting to make sure the building was greatly influenced by students, former ASUO President Ben Eckstein and Vice President Katie Taylor@@[email protected]@ went to Salem to procure a student vote on the project.
With approval from the Oregon University System, the first student referendum was set for mid-fall term. However, seemingly without notice, Eckstein pushed the vote back to the end of the year. That night, protestors both for and against the referendum piled into the EMU Walnut Room for the ASUO senate meeting. Many people shared testimonials and concerns about changing the student union.
After many hours of trying to come to a compromise, current ASUO President Laura Hinman@@[email protected]@ took over the meeting and began to go over every detail of the renovation in order to appease the numerous concerns. At four in the morning, the body finalized their changes for the referendum, and the vote was held shortly after.
This referendum was voted down, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The EMU renovation was added to the spring term vote and was promoted by the YES campaign, which stood for Your EMU and SRC.
During the second week of spring term, it was revealed that members of the Katie and Alex campaign allegedly used a phishing website to gain access to information of the other campaigns. Head of the YES campaign Sam Dotters-Katz@@[email protected]@ believes that his email was violated and could have led to the failure of the second referendum.
Students went home for summer vacation and mostly forgot about the battle for the renovation, until The Register-Guard wrote a story saying the EMU Task Force, with the help of Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes,@@[email protected]@ hired a professional marketing firm called RBI Strategies and Research@@http://dailyemerald.com/2012/08/17/uo-hires-pr-firm-to-convince-students-to-vote-yes-on-emu-renovation/@@ to assist with the campaign.
After outrage from the students and the OUS, the firm was sent away, and the task force continued to promote the renovation themselves.
With an astounding 54 percent vote for yes, the referendum held Friday passed. There is still a lot to do before the building can be redone, but those working on the campaign crossed a significant hurdle.