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Dénommée’s supporters organize sit-in to protest BOA’s disqualification of election winner

Originally published on March.16, 2011.

Protesters were using kegs are drum kits, and chanting to the sounds of a siren in an attempt to make their opinions regarding Tristan Dénommée’s disqualification heard. Students crowded into the office of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) at approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 7 for a sit-in demonstration.

“They just told us they were sitting down and going to chill at the office… and the next thing I know they’ve taken my couch out of my office and were using it to barricade [the door],” said Alex Chaput, the current vp social of the SFUO. “It’s a shame it has come to this… In my opinion, they’re defending what’s right and what’s wrong.”

The protest was organized by Alexis Goudreau, Dénommée’s former campaign manager, in response to the decisions of an emergency Board of Administration (BOA) meeting the day before. The BOA rejected Dénommée’s appeals and finalized his disqualification from the position of vp finance, putting his opponent, Sarah Jayne King into office for the 2011-12 school year. 

“We went to the BOA yesterday, we saw what happened, and we’re pissed off,” said Goudreau after allowing the Fulcrum into the barricaded space. “[What} we are hoping to accomplish [is] that students wake up a bit and see what [is happening] with the federation.”

Goudreau explained that the students hoped to stay in the office until Dénommée was reinstated as the official vp finance and that the BOA members involved in the disqualification resigned from office.

Dénommée came to the scene after the fact and stayed outside the office. Although he didn’t organize the protest, Dénommée fully encouraged it.

“I didn’t know we were actually inside — I love it! This is fucking amazing!” he said. ”After everything that’s happened, this is the only thing we can do to express our opinion to the SFUO.”

There were other supporters watching outside the office, as well as some students who were frustrated with the protest itself.

“This occupation is penalizing students… it’s penalizing services that can’t get to the photocopiers. There are employees inside, those who are working in uncomfortable circumstances,” said Jesse Root a BOA member for social sciences.

Although the protestors were not forcibly keeping any SFUO employee inside the office, Paige Galette, vp communications of the SFUO, maintained that she was concerned about those working in the offices.

“We are trying our best to ensure the safety of our employees,” she said in an official statement to the Fulcrum.

Students frustrated with the protest began to hold up posters of their own, reading, “Tristan cheated, SJK didn’t. Penalize Tristan, not SJK.”

Amy Hammett, vp student affairs of the SFUO, believes that democracy was upheld in the BOA ruling and that the decision won’t be changed through protesting.

“A candidate was disqualified for not following the election rules… and now it came to the last desperate attempt of the candidate,” said Hammett.

It didn’t take long for the protesting to spill into the centre of the UCU, with parties from both sides screaming about democracy, by-elections, cheating, and accountability. Campus security separated the two groups before the argument could escalate further. 

The sit-in ended at about 4:20 p.m. despite rumors of protesters preparing to spend the night. After negotiating with supporters outside the room, the protesters decided to leave after city media had written about their cause, stating that they had achieved their goal of informing the students. 

“This is only the beginning,” said Goudreau. 

He claimed the student body should brace itself for more demonstrations.  

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Fun Facts about this article   

  • Tristan Dénnomée was a candidate for the SFUO’s vp finance position for the 2011-12 school year. He defeated incumbent Sarah Jayne King by a margin of about 100 votes before being disqualified for allegedly breaking a number of SFUO election rules notably publishing false information and posting electoral signs at illegal spots on campus. Dénnomée days later appealed his disqualification which after heated debates by members of the SFUO BOA was upheld. 
  • The SFUO is the former student union of the University of Ottawa, following a number of fraud allegations against multiple members it was defeated in the student union referendum of 2019 by the UOSU.
  • The BOA was the SFUO equivalent to UOSU’s Board of Directors.
  • Jane Lytvynenko was at the time a contributor for the Fulcrum, the following year (2011-12) she was the Fulcrum’s News Editor. After her time at the Fulcrum, she worked for Cup and Canadaland before landing at Buzzfeed where she’s worked since 2016. She specializes in covering online misinformation (Fake News).  
  • Tristan Dénnomée now works at Stelpro.
  • Alexis Goudreau is now director of business development at Novum légal.
  • Alex Chaput is now a creative service coordinator at Mills Entertainment.
  • Jesse Root is now a senior case manager at Bright immigration.
  • Paige Galette now lives in Yukon and is a writer.
  • Amy Hammett is now a national representative and union advisor at CUPE Local 1978
  • Sarah Jayne King was chair of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students after leaving the SFUO, she was very vocal during the Quebec student protests of 2012.