Vice-president university affairs says U-Pass staff were insulted by students

The third Board of Administration (BOA) meeting of the 2016-17 year for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) took place on Sept. 18, with discussions ranging from  the recent U-Pass distribution to electoral reform to upcoming events for the semester.

The meeting began with updates from each member of the executive. SFUO President Roméo Ahimakin said that he had recently met with the University of Ottawa’s new president Jacques Frémont, and that Frémont is looking forward to working closely with the student federation to improve campus life for students.

Ahimakin and vice-president social Hadi Wess discussed the Everybody Love Everybody (ELE) Fest, which will take place at the U of O and feature local artists, with proceeds going towards Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs of Ottawa.

U-Pass staff receive criticism from students

Vice-president of university affairs Vanessa Dorimain received a number of questions on the recent U-Pass distributions, specifically with regards to the wait times. She clarified that the maximum wait time for students was four hours, contrary to statements by students saying they had waited up to six hours.

Dorimain reiterated that the wait was a result of the cards having arrived late from the distributor, and because there were fewer employees at the booths.

Many of the staff were subjected to insults and harsh comments from students, according to Dorimain, and as a result many of the staff chose not to go on break despite being told to do so by the SFUO.

The pros and cons of a “none of the above” ballot option

Following the executive updates and question period, several motions were presented, all pertaining to electoral reform for the SFUO executive.

The first motion was to amend the SFUO constitution so that ballots would have a “none of the above” option for contested positions.

Those in favour of the motion, such as Faculty of Science representative Nick Robinson, believed that this option was more democratic, as students who disliked all the candidates running would not have to vote for anyone.

“The whole principle of democracy is power to the people … students don’t think they’re being represented,” said Robinson.

All members of the SFUO executive were against the motion, except for vice-president of communications Francesco Caruso who said that students should not have to vote for candidates whose views did not align with their own.

Ahimakin said that with the adoption of this amendment, positions on the SFUO executive could be left vacant, possibly leading to an executive comprised of two or three members.Vice-president of finance Rizki Rachiq also highlighted that this would mean jobs would not get done, such as budgeting or U-Pass distribution.

In contrast, Faculty of Social Sciences representative Iris Wong said that students should not have to vote for candidates they disliked, and that a “none of the above” option would make a “clear statement” of who students want and why they are opposed to the candidates.

Caylie McKinlay, also representing the Faculty of Social Sciences, stated that if the candidate was the best for the job, students would vote for them.

Mikayla Vattiata, a Faculty of Social Sciences representative, said that the “none of the above” option would mean that students are still voting and giving their opinion.

The motion was eventually voted on and failed.

Additional motions

Other motions presented during the meeting included raising the quorum for referendums from five per cent to 10 per cent, along with abolishing the 1500 signatures needed to impeach any elected official (lowering it to 100 signatures).

Both of these motions also failed.

The next BOA meeting will be held on Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. in TBT 083. Meetings are open to the public.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that other motions presented included raising the quorum for general assemblies from five per cent to 10 per cent, along with abolishing the 100 signatures needed to impeach an elected official. The other motions presented included raising the quorum for referendums to 10 per cent, and abolishing the 1500 signatures needed to impeach elected officials, lowering it to 100. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Fulcrum sincerely regrets this error.