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Candidates appeal decision after material initially approved

Photo: Remi Yuan

Both the ABC and Here for Us slates running in the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) general elections are appealing the elections director’s decision to penalize them because of spelling issues on their campaign material.

Dana Abu Hammad, the vice-president of equity candidate for ABC, said her slate was penalized for misspelling the position in French on their campaign material.

However, the term was spelled several different ways depending on the source.

On the SFUO elections website, the position is spelled “vice-président aux affaires de équité,” while on the electoral regulations, it’s “vice-présidente à l’équité,” and in the SFUO constitution, “vice-présidente aux affaires étudiantes.”

Abu Hammad said the elections director approved her team’s campaign materials, but they were later informed about the error after the campaigning period had begun, forcing them to take down their social media content to fix it and lose some of their online following.

“It’s frustrating when you start your campaign, you know that everything’s been approved, and you’re doing everything by the rules,” said Abu Hammad.

Elections director Lindsay De Jaegher declined to comment on the specific penalties, but said she’s made sure all candidates are following electoral regulations.

De Jaegher dealt the penalty despite previously approving ABC’s and Here for Us’ promotional material, after receiving “a complaint from a student regarding bilingualism not being properly respected,” she said.

“As a result, I asked all candidates with imperfect bilingualism on their campaign materials to correct the errors from that point on in order to respect the concerns regarding bilingualism of the student who made the complaint.”

According to the electoral regulations, “the elections office is not responsible for campaign materials that are found to be in non-compliance with the regulations after it has been posted.”​

Nicole Desnoyers, presidential candidate for the Impact slate, said they too were notified by De Jaegher about misspelling vp equity, and “rectified the situation.”

Abu Hammad suggested that not all candidates are being treated the same.

“There was a few other candidates who aside from us still didn’t have to go through the same penalties even though they didn’t spell it correctly, the same way as us. I think they just changed theirs online,” she said, though she declined to name specific candidates.

David Gakwerere said his slate, Here for Us, is also appealing a spelling-related penalty.

Here for Us was penalized for not having the word president in both French and English, opting for just “président.” Gakwerere stated in his appeal to the elections committee that previous candidates Anne-Marie Roy, Geoff Parent, and Ethan Plato have all used the singular form of “président.”

They did not fix the errors within the time alloted and were penalized. The timing of the penalty which led to his team being without social media during the debate in which both he and vice-president equity candidate Nicole Maylor were participants.

Chris Hynes, vice-president of university affairs and a member of the elections committee, declined to comment on either appeal while they were still in the process of deliberating.

Voting in the election takes place Feb. 10–12.