Those who have been subjected to one of my long-winded anti-SFUO rants know that I am by no means their biggest fan. To be completely honest, I can’t recall the last time I had something nice to say about the SFUO. Every time I criticize them, the “SFUO cronies”—you know who you are—say “if you don’t like it, then why don’t you run,” in a near Pavlovian way. So I decided to bite the bullet and run for a spot on the Board of Administration. Instead, I got a glimpse into what the most corrupt student union in Canada will do keep out those they don’t like.
I was first approached to run by Justin Patrick and the Students First slate. I agreed instantly. From the outset, the sense of camaraderie and the high level of intellectual diversity within the slate amazed me. For example, our BOA Social Sciences team consisted of four people: a moderate republican, a Bernie-loving democrat, a conservative-turned-NDPer, and a libertarian (that’s me). Despite our political differences, we all agreed something in the SFUO wasn’t right and it was in desperate need of repair.
But it’s really hard to fix the SFUO when the establishment actively tries to derail your campaign at every turn. What I’m going to explain to you is very simple—how the SFUO stole the election from the students.
The easiest way to steal an election is to buy off the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). His job is to enforce the election rules, so this is naturally the easiest place to start. I say unreservedly that this year’s CEO (Qussai Abu-Naqoos) is the most unqualified and corrupt CEO in our history. I would argue he is not sufficiently bilingual—he doesn’t speak French, and his English (especially in the written form) is questionable.
What angered me most about the CEO’s conduct is how he selectively enforced rules, improperly applied rules, made up rules that do not exist, and even refused to follow the orders of the Elections Committee when they struck down his illegal rulings. This was all done in an effort to keep Students First out and keep the establishment gravy train moving along (or else they’d have to stop mooching off students).
I could fill up a whole edition of the Fulcrum with everything bad he’s done, so I’ll just give you two examples:
- He quarantined our slate for 40 minutes over a rule that doesn’t exist. When I asked him for his justification he referred to Electoral Regulation 18.5.2, which grants him the power to levy any penalty he sees fit. That’s all fine and good, but the CEO isn’t allowed to levy a punishment for breaking a rule that doesn’t exist. Even if such a rule exist, he did not properly communicate the rule change to us pursuant to Electoral Regulation 1.6. Therefore his ruling was completely out of order.
- He cherry-picked rules and took them out of context to disqualify my Official Representative (JP Dubé). The CEO knows this (he isn’t that dumb, after all). When the Elections Committee overturned the ruling, he threw a temper tantrum and said, “I deny this decision and will not act upon it.” With all due respect, just because you disagree with the ruling doesn’t mean you get to ignore it. That’s not how democracy works.
For me, the final straw came when the CEO disqualified me and four other candidates. The timing of the disqualification was telling. As students started waking up, the SFUO-establishment knew the writing was on the wall and the jig was up. So they had two options—either run a better campaign than us, or use the puppet-CEO and disqualify us. They chose the latter.
While I leave the U of O never having realized my dream of sitting on the BOA, I treat my unceremonious departure from university politics as a victory. Although it wasn’t the result we hoped for, we exposed the man behind the curtain within the SFUO. We forced the establishment to come from the shadows and show their true colours.
To the next generation of students, your job is to keep the fight alive. When I was in first year, it was taboo to say the SFUO is corrupt. Now, it’s public knowledge. They know they’re on borrowed time. This election convinced me the only solution is to abolish the SFUO and start over. The SFUO is morally bereft and corrupt beyond repair. They have forgotten that they’re a student union first and not a tyrannical echo chamber for the U of O’s regressive left.
In the words of my mentor, the late Jeremy Wright: “the answer to 1984 is 1776.”
The SFUO’s 1776 is all but inevitable.
—Michele Di Franco, fourth-year economics and political science student at the U of O.