A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate (student body ) is invited to vote on a particular proposal.
A referendum of all the members of the Union shall be the supreme authority on all matters relating to the government and policy of the Union.
Categories of Referendums
The MSU Constitution provides for three categories of referendum:
- Constitutional Referendum
- Policy Referendum
- Impeachment Referendum
Called by petition or by direction
All referendums are called by the Returning Officers on the written petition of the ordinary membership of the Union (“by petition”) or on the direction of the Executive or the Student Senate (“by direction”).
In the case of a referendum by petition:
- Each petitioner must sign the referendum petition underneath, at the end of, or on a sheet attached to an exact copy of the wording of the proposed referendum and provide their name and student number. The Returning Officers shall make available a template or templates for the calling of a referendum by petition which may be used for that purpose.
In the case of a referendum to be called by direction:
- The direction shall be made by means of a motion passed at a quorate meeting of the Student Senate. The motion must include the exact wording of the proposed referendum.
- Notice of a referendum motion must be given to the members of the Student Senate at least one week in advance of the relevant Student Senate meeting. Such notice shall be given in a manner consistent with the Standing Orders of the Student Senate.
For the purposes of quorum, the Returning Officers calculate membership based on the student numbers published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for the previous academic year.
The President is responsible for ensuring the implementation of any decision made by referendum.
All referendums are governed by Article 7 and Schedule 24 of the MSU Constitution.
Each time a Referendum is put in place, a number of people complain about its use of the word ‘referendums’ as the plural for referendum. They usually make the point that the plural of referendum is ‘referenda’. Either form of the plural is acceptable.
MSU prefers to use ‘referendums’ as per the Oxford English Dictionary entry, reproduced here:
- referendum . Pl. referendums, -enda. [L., gerund or neut. gerundive of referre to refer.] The practice or principle (in early use chiefly associated with the Swiss constitution) of submitting a question at issue to the whole body of voters. In terms of its Latin origin, referendums is logically preferable as a modern plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund referendum has no plural); the Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning 'things to be referred', necessarily connotes a plurality of issues. Those who prefer the form referenda are presumably using words like agenda and memoranda as models. Usage varies at the present time (1981), but The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (1981) recommends referendums, and this form seems likely to prevail.