Along with officer elections, students voting in this year’s student government elections will get to take a stand on two referenda when the polls open March 25-26.
The first referendum asks if Metropolis Coffee Company should replace Starbucks as the coffee supplier of Loyola’s vendors. Metropolis was Loyola’s supplier until 2012.
The second proposes whether $2.50 should be added to the student development fee in order to fund the Magis Scholarship, which aims to provide financial aid to undocumented Loyola students. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid.
“The reason we’re doing a referendum is because a referendum is powerful. It will raise awareness to say, ‘Listen, students are willing to do this,’” said Flavio Bravo, the current student body president.
A referendum can earn a spot on the ballot in two ways: a student Senate vote or a petition with 500 student signatures. The Metropolis measure received unanimous Senate support, while the Magis Scholarship received 751 student signatures and also passed a Senate vote. Melinda Bunnage, the chair of the justice committee, wrote the Metropolis resolution, while Mariana Chavez, another member of the justice committee, wrote the Magis Scholarship legislation.
Though both measures could have passed as pieces of Senate legislation, Bravo said there were strategic reasons for letting the student body vote on them. According to Bravo, one Aramark employee said that 3,000 student signatures would be needed in order for them to switch back to Metropolis. If successful, the referendum’s votes will serve as these signatures. Bravo is a firm supporter of both referenda.
“[Metropolis is] a fair trade company. They’re local. It’s more true to who we are,” Bravo said.
The Latin American Student Organization started the Magis campaign last year. Should the measure pass, the scholarship would become available in the summer. Bravo said Loyola would be the first to offer such a scholarship.
“It says, ‘Here at Loyola we accept the best and the brightest no matter what their documentation is,’” Bravo said.
In 2013, Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine was the first school in the nation to open its doors to undocumented students under the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act provides residency opportunities to undocumented immigrants who have lived most of their lives in the United States, especially those who have received college education or served in the military.
Loyola students expressed support for both the referenda.
“I think that’s awesome. You should be able to donate more if you want. I’d give $10 to that,” said Carolina Fernandez Piedrahita, an undeclared freshman in the business school. “But I also wish there was more support for other students. I’m one of those students who’s too rich for FAFSA but too poor for college.”
Fernandez Piedrahita also expressed support for replacing Starbucks with Metropolis, saying that Loyola should support local businesses.
Junior health systems management Shiwani Desai expressed enthusiasm for the quality of Metropolis’ coffee.
“I love it,” she said. “Their lattes are amazing.”