By Michael Chen
The Oct. 24-26 referendum resulted in an overwhelming 86 per cent voting in favour of putting the $10.35 student levy fee towards the application to operate a new Ryerson student-run radio station.
With a total of 3,239 votes cast during the referendum, 2,773 of those votes were in favour for the fee to be used for a new radio station. In order for the referendum to be official, a minimum cut-off of 3,000 votes had to be cast.
“[Oct. 26], was ‘Radio D-Day.’ It was the day that we came out and we got the people to vote. And the Ryerson people said ‘yes, we want radio,’” said Chris Shank, a third-year radio and television arts student and spokesperson for the New Ryerson Radio campaign.
“We got more than 10 per cent of the population at Ryerson voting. It was through perseverance and, really, it was a group effort,” he said.
But the process doesn’t end here. The vote also allowed the Ryerson Radio committee to use $50,000 from the fees collected last year to put forward a bid for the available 88.1FM frequency.
The application will be submitted for consideration to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by Dec. 19. The submitted applications can take as long as 12 months before a decision is reached by the CRTC.
Radio promoters canvassed students on Gould Street to get students to vote at the various polling locations around campus. By 4:27 p.m. on Oct. 26, the group needed only 100 more votes to reach quorum by the 5 p.m. deadline. But Shank attributed most of their success to their promotion of the campaign.
But fourth-year nursing student Marinell Monteroso said she didn’t hear enough about it.
“If it was advertised more, I would vote but people needed to be aware of it first,” she said.
Other students saw this as a chance to be on par with other universities.
“I think it’s important to vote and to support student ideas. Any university I’ve heard about has a radio station for training students,” says Pat Tanzola, a master’s of business administration student who voted at the Ted Rogers School of Management.
“There were volunteers on the floor asking, ‘hey, did you vote?’”
Other commercial radio stations have expressed an interest in applying for the new frequency, including Dufferin Communication’s Z103.5 FM station and Proud FM 103.9. This is the first frequency that has been available for 30 years and other stations have expressed interest based on the frequency’s clearer signal.
“We are going to put as much effort as we put into the Ryerson Vote Yes campaign for the referendum as we are for the CRTC,” said Shank.
President Sheldon Levy agreed that students should have their own radio station.
“Never again will it be taken from the university by another group, and make the university students pay for it while they don’t have control of it,” he said.
Whether or not the potential student station has a chance against commercial stations is still unclear.
“I’ve had discussions with one of the lawyers that is very familiar with the application process and I think we’re positive and feel good about it but we don’t feel it’s a slam dunk at all,” said Levy.