With Help from a New App, SMU Students Again Reject LGBT Senate Seat
For the second time in three weeks, the SMU student body has shot down a proposal to add an LGBT student senate seat.
Students voted on the measure on Wednesday and Thursday -- a re-vote after an initial attempt fell a few hundred votes shy of the two-thirds majority required to pass.
Student body president Ramon Trespalacios announced the results in an email blast to the student body on Thursday evening:
Thank you all who voted for the referendum in the past two days. The results were 1,107 votes in favor and 1,025 against. Therefore, the referendum failed as it needed 2/3 of the votes in favor in order to pass.
Once again, I appreciate the time you took to vote and be an active citizen of this community. I'd like to remind all students that Student Senate is here to support every one of you. If there is an issue that you'd like to see addressed you can contact me or any other member of the Senate.
Had the measure been approved, the LGBT community would have joined other campus minorities (e.g. African Americans, Asian Americans, graduate students) with a designated student representative.
LGBT advocates on campus had hoped that putting the measure on its own ballot, rather than on the general election ballot, would boost its chance of passage, but the plan backfired.
Turnout for the special election (2.132) was actually greater than in the general election (2,060). Support for the LGBT senate seat dropped from 59 percent to 52 percent. SMU's Daily Campus credits the surge of no votes to an app:
A new social media app on campus, Yik Yak, may have played a big role in garnering opposition turnout against the proposed referendum. Many posts were made on the anonymous social media site that urged students to vote against the referendum that took place Wednesday and Thursday.
"I would like to thank Yik Yak for single handedly getting the LGBT seat to fail," read one anonymous post on the app following the announcement of the results. "I don't think any of us would have known to vote without it."
"It definitely influenced my vote," sophomore Erik Beresford said. "I didn't even know there was a re-vote or when to vote without getting info from Yik Yak."
Yik Yak is an anonymous messaging app that allows users to pay a small fee to share messages with other nearby users. It was developed by college kids for college kids, primarily, according to TechCrunch, as a means of sharing gripes.
There are some signs that SMU is warming to the LGBT community. The student senate voted overwhelmingly to put the LGBT seat on the ballot -- something they have refused to do in the past -- and advocates say the school's administration has been fairly progressive. The student body, on the other hand, just isn't quite ready to make the leap.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.