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Communication breakdown

I feel the recent CIVL referendum failed not because the radio station didn’t deserve the money, but because of ineffective campaigning.

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By Shane Potter (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: January 25, 2012

I respect CIVL and what they are trying to accomplish, I really do. I feel their recent referendum failed not because CIVL didn’t deserve the money, but because of ineffective campaigning. This isn’t meant to insult or put down CIVL in any way; they work hard on a small budget to create a quality campus radio station. The proposed funding increase was meant to simply improve and expand the current system by hiring more staff and expanding their broadcast to other campuses such as Chilliwack. The problem was that their message was not clearly communicated to students, and this was due to some fundamental mistakes.

The first campaign posters were entirely ineffective, although they admittedly did improve as the campaign went on. One poster in particular featured text that was nearly the same colour as the dark background, making the poster illegible at any distance further than a few centimetres away. Another poster I saw was a nicely drawn picture but had no text on it to show that it was encouraging people to vote in the referendum. Posters are practically invisible at UFV so they need to be clean, simple, and clear.

The second issue again involves a lack of simplicity. More specifically, the complexity of the referendum question itself was an issue. The referendum question was 122 words long and contained, unnecessarily, the word “whereas” five times. Referendum questions should be simple and to the point; the successful SUS Student Union Building referendum contained a simple and clear 24 word question, and demonstrates how a clear and easy to understand question makes it easy for the voter to say yes. By making it so complicated, even those convinced to vote yes might second-guess their decision.

Thirdly, it’s important to target the right people. Campaigning in Abbotsford seemed effective, as it contains the largest amount of students; however, due to student apathy and lack of a strong voting population at the school, a few hundred votes is all it takes to decide the outcome of a vote. Abbotsford students would still be able to access CIVL whether or not the referendum went through, so why target them? Instead, the focus should have been on the students who have the most to gain. It is the other campuses that are unable to listen to their own university radio station because of funding restraints. Students from Chilliwack and the other campuses are the ones that would benefit the most from a funding increase and those are the people that would come out to vote to make it happen. Chilliwack campus has many strong students who are willing to support anything that brings programs or benefits to their campus, so CIVL should focus on informing and campaigning to those students.

I understand that running a referendum is no easy task. It’s easy for me to pick it apart after the fact, and I know that many volunteers put a lot of work into the referendum campaign. I don’t think I could have done any better myself, but I think CIVL shouldn’t count out the possibility of a funding increase in the future. CIVL, don’t give up because the first referendum attempt failed. I still support what you guys are doing, and by learning from your mistakes and making the campaign clearer, students will support a funding increase, but only once they understand what they stand to gain.

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