(Image Courtesy of USC Undergraduate Student Government)
(Image Courtesy of USC Undergraduate Student Government)

The USC Undergraduate Student Government (USG) voted on Tuesday to allow students to pass referendums. The resolution, proposed by USG Sen. Sabrina Enriquez, gives USC students a role in USG they haven't had since 1969.

The referendums students can now propose must start as petitions. The petition needs to include signatures from one-tenth of the undergraduate student body. Student body Vice President, Austin Dunn, said referendums give opportunity for students to voice their concerns, but acknowledges the potential drawbacks.

"I think there are certainly ways where the privilege of a referendum can be abused, not to say that will happen but I certainly understand the opposite side's concerns," Dunn said. "I did hear concerns from senators that a referendum would be used for political purposes."

Dunn said he does not think students will use referendums to bring up political or controversial issues. In the past, the only instance of a referendum was to create funds for student scholarships. Dunn said he hopes students use the privilege as a last resort.

"Ideally we would never need a referendum because hopefully any concern that was expressed we would be able to bring to administration and they would hear us. A referendum is almost a demand. Ideally, student government would never need to make a demand, but rather a request and have our request heard and then acted upon."

According to the Daily Trojan, the referendum will then have to be approved by the USG Judicial Council and two-thirds of the USG Senate. Once the referendum reaches the ballot, it needs a majority vote from the student population.

At the meeting, USG Sen. Daniel Newman proposed an amendment that would require 25 percent voter turnout to approve a referendum. This amendment was put forward to avoid a small portion of the student body having disproportionate influence.

Enriquez acknowledged Newman's concerns, but pointed out low voter turnout is a larger problem for all USG student elections. Only 20 percent of USC undergraduate students voted in the last USG elections.The USG Senate passed the referendum proposal without the amendment suggested by Newman.

The ability to bring referendums will not go into effect until next year.

This was story updated at 5:30 p.m. to include the USG Vice President Austin Dunn.

Reach Reporters Rachel Frain here and Jacqueline Baltz here, respectively.