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Referendum to increase student levy for U of O’s Office of the Ombudsperson fails to pass, eight BOD reps elected

Babacar Faye will be the University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) first president, according to the results of the union’s general elections released on Friday night. 

Faye, a current representative for the faculty of social sciences on the UOSU’s Board of Directors (BOD), beat the union’s current student life commissioner Jason Seguya in a close race. Faye won 52.2 per cent of votes, while Seguya had 47.8 per cent of votes. 

The race to become the UOSU’s next francophone affairs commissioner was the tightest of the election, with three candidates vying for the position.

Marissa St. Amand, a third-year political science and communications student and former director of bilingualism for the International, Political & Policy Studies Student Association, came out on top with 45.2 per cent of votes in the first round and 59.4 per cent in the second round. 

Daphnée Veilleux Michaud came in second with 29 per cent of votes in the first round and 36.3 per cent in the second round, followed by current operations commissioner Rony Fotsing with 25.8 per cent of votes in the first round.   

The elections for the UOSU’s advocacy commissioner, student services commissioner, and operations commissioner positions were all unopposed. 

Current faculty of social sciences director Tim Gulliver will be the UOSU’s next advocacy commissioner, winning support of 88.4 per cent of voters.

Amina El Himri, an international student in communications who is also Campus Vibez uOttawa’s event coordinator, will be the union’s first student services commissioner, thanks to the support of 85.7 per cent of voters. 

Fourth-year Telfer School of Management student Nour el Huda won the support of 82.9 per cent of voters, making her the UOSU’s next operations commissioner.

Since no candidates were on the ballot for the student life commissioner and equity commissioner positions, two seats on the UOSU’s seven-person executive committee are vacant for the 2020-21 academic year.

However, the UOSU’s newly elected BOD will have the power to appoint an interim student life commissioner and an interim equity commissioner until the positions can be filled at the union’s fall byelections. 

Board of Directors elections results

Of the 22 seats available on the UOSU’s 2020-21 BOD, only eight saw interest from candidates and all were elected. 

Four candidates were elected as social sciences representatives, filling all the seats on the BOD for the faculty. 

Current faculty of social sciences director Zaina Abusayma will serve a second term, winning the support of 87.4 per cent of voters. Henry Mann was also elected with the support of 87.5 per cent of voters, along with Jayde Lavoie with 85.5 per cent, and Serge Patenaude with 86.9 per cent.

Sam Yee ran unopposed for a faculty of science BOD seat, meaning two seats for the faculty will be unfilled. Yee won with the support of 87.1 per cent of voters. 

Two candidates were elected as health sciences representatives, filling both seats on the BOD for the faculty. 

Sarah Aly and Demetra Sainas won the support of 92.8 per cent and 92 per cent of voters respectively. 

Tian Kun Chen was elected as the sole representative on the BOD for the Telfer School of Management with the support of 77.4 per cent of voters, meaning two seats for the faculty are unfilled.

No candidates ran for seats tied to the faculties of education, law (both common law and civil law sections), medicine, arts, or engineering, meaning 14 spots on the 2020-21 BOD are vacant. However, those seats can be filled in the UOSU’s fall byelection. 

Referendum to increase funding for Office of the Ombudsperson fails to pass 

The UOSU’s general elections also included a referendum to increase the student levy used to fund the U of O’s Office of the Ombudsperson from $1.06 per semester for both full-time and part-time undergraduate students to $1.50. 

The referendum failed, with 57.5 per cent of voters against the levy increase.

Ombudsperson Martine Conway told the Fulcrum in a February interview that the referendum was proposed because the service has not seen a funding increase since it was launched back in 2010. The office has also seen the number of files it annually processes rise from 174 in the 2010-11 academic year to 650 in 2018-19. 

About 4,200 students voted in the general elections, equal to a 12.4 per cent voter turnout. The UOSU’s first general elections, held in April 2019, saw a voter turnout of about 16 per cent

The UOSU’s general elections were held completely online due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting ran from Wednesday to Friday evening.