Scheduling prevents two students’ candidacy for exec; elections run without chief officer
The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) by-elections will take place this week as two slates and a number of independents look to fill remaining positions on student and university government.
The by-elections will be held Oct. 29–31 to fill 11 vacant posts, including an executive position with the SFUO. The campaign period began Oct. 21 with a total of 22 candidates, some grouped into two slates called United Campus and 1Campus.
The candidates for vp services and communications are Vincent Rioux, last year’s editor-in-chief of La Rotonde, and Ikram Hamoud, who is running with United Campus.
SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy has publicly endorsed United Campus.
Test scheduling renders potential candidates ineligible
Two candidates were disappointed when their campaign applications for the vp services and communications position on the SFUO executive were cut short. Daniel Dumas and Nasha Brownridge said they were unable to attend their bilingualism tests over reading week and were prohibited from rescheduling.
Brownridge said she picked up her candidate form on Oct. 7 and immediately noticed the tests were scheduled for Oct. 15–16, when she had planned to be out of town for the study break.
“I had already booked flights about two or three weeks in advance, and then I had a flight home to Toronto,” she said.
Brownridge sent an email to the SFUO elections committee to reschedule.
“I got an email about two days later pretty much just saying, ‘No, your candidacy is unconstitutional,’” she said.
Dumas experienced a similar situation. He said he was notified via email of the date of his test and did not receive the email until the day before the test because he was outside of Internet and mobile service. Dumas was allowed to reschedule, but when he showed up to the test he was told it would give him an unfair advantage and he would be unable to run.
“I understand that making it to the three separate tests was my responsibility and that the elections committee has every right to dismiss my candidacy,” he wrote in an email to the Fulcrum. “However, I find it unjust that I was thrown out of the elections on such a technicality, especially since the email with exact testing times was sent out on a Saturday of a long weekend, not allowing for any business days between receipt of the email and the actual test.”
The SFUO constitution states that all candidates must be given all election notifications at least five business days in advance.
“My understanding is that the dates were clearly communicated with all candidates,” said Roy. “They were printed in bold on the nomination forms, so candidates knew the dates prior to reading week before they decided to run.”
Roy said the situation with Dumas and Brownridge is unfortunate, but all decisions are ultimately up to the elections committee.
In an article published online, Board of Administration (BOA) member Katya Moussatova suspected foul play regarding the test scheduling. The two remaining members of the elections committee, following the resignation of former vp services and communications Brad Lafortune, are BOA members Ossob Hassan and John Davies. Moussatova said both were affiliated with the Student Action slate in the SFUO elections this past spring and that this presents a “clear conflict of interest.”
Elections lack CEO
This year’s by-elections are being run without a chief electoral officer (CEO). According to Roy, the two members of the elections committee have been “stretched thin” and were unable to fill the position.
“The elections committee did report that to the BOA and presented it as a potential issue that could come up,” she said. “It’s a recurring thing. The problem is there are very few people who are willing to work for two to three weeks in the fall, and a month and a half to two months in the winter.”
Moussatova referred to the missing CEO as a “scandal” that violates the SFUO constitution, and Dumas said he finds it “highly questionable.”
“They are the point of contact for any infractions, any conflicts, and any questions on what is right and what is wrong,” Moussatova wrote. “Now, can you see the problem with not having one?”
Students will vote on one position for the executive, one for the Board of Governors (BOG), seven for the Board of Administration (BOA), and two for the Senate.
(Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this article, two students were stated to have been disqualified from the elections. This information was incorrect as the students were not official candidates and therefore were not removed from the campaign.)