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BOA meeting sees apology, confrontation

Tension grew as debate surrounding the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) by-elections abounded at the Board of Administration (BOA) meeting Oct. 27.

BOA and audience members questioned the lack of chief electoral officer (CEO), the scheduling of the bilingualism tests, and the lack of candidate debates.

The by-election was held Oct. 29–31 to fill 11 vacant posts, including the vp services and communications position. Vincent Rioux, La Rotonde’s previous editor-in-chief, and Ikram Hamoud, are both running for the executive post.

The meeting addressed why a candidates debate was not slotted when the election dates were ratified at the previous BOA meeting.

Faculty of arts BOA member Alex Boettger said the Students’ Association of the Faculty of Arts did not contact Café Alt to use it as a potential debate space. According to Boettger, the space would be free for the SFUO to use.

“The election committee looked at spaces around campus, particularly in the UCU,” said elections committee member Ossob Hassan in an email to the Fulcrum. “Due to time constraints and capacity issues, we weren’t able to hold debates.”

According to the elections committee, scheduling and timing played a large role in the decision to not hold candidate debates and the budget for elections is shared by both the general and by-elections, leaving little extra finance.

Nasha Brownridge, an applicant who could not participate in the the vp services and communications race because her candidacy was deemed unconstitutional, was present at the BOA meeting. Scheduling issues also played a part in her candidacy application when it was dismissed because she was unable to attend the bilingualism tests. The tests were dated Oct. 15–17 during reading week. Brownridge said she had booked a flight weeks in advance and did not imagine the SFUO would mandate students to be on campus during reading week.

During the meeting, SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy offered Brownridge an apology.

“It wasn’t really my place to apologize because I’m not on the elections committee,” Roy said. “But I did recognize that the timeline for the bilingualism test being during reading week wasn’t an ideal timeline.”

Roy said the elections committee faced other scheduling challenges.

“I did apologize and said that moving forward in the future, we should make sure we have a flexible timeline that allows for unexpected things to occur,” she said.

The meeting also highlighted the absence of a CEO and how it is not a new occurrence.  The position has not been filled for the by-elections for the past five years.  Roy said the hiring of a CEO has been a constitutional problem faced by elections committees.

“It was really clear to the board last night that we want to work toward finding solutions to make sure we don’t come across, or that we’re not putting in our constitution, expectations that are not realistic to fulfil by the elections committee,” Roy said.

The by-elections will also fill the vacant post of Board of Governors (BOG) representative. None of the candidates—Arno Van Djik, Adam Strombergsson-Denora, Tatiana Forstner, or Myriam Whalen—were present at the monthly BOG meeting Oct. 28.