Sunny Bui points to poor promotion and short timeline for his absence from vp social race

Photo: Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi

Debates for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) general election have come and gone, but one seat remained empty at the vice-president social debate.

Sunny Bui, the SFUO’s current volunteer coordinator, and at one point a vice-president social hopeful, cited poor promotion and a short nomination timeline as the reasons why he wasn’t able to run.

Bui said he got back from the holiday break on Jan. 14 and was so busy organizing the Winter Challenge that he missed the Jan. 16 deadline to submit his nomination forms and collect 50 student signatures.

Bui said he emailed the elections director, Lindsay de Jaegher, explaining his situation, but she declined to give him an extension.

De Jaegher  insisted the elections were properly promoted.

“Elections promotion involves mass emails being sent out. So that started in December, ads in campus media, as well as posting information on the elections website,” she said.

The SFUO didn’t make any posts on their Facebook or Twitter pages regarding the election nomination period, however.

In last year’s SFUO election, students returned to school on Jan. 6 and had until Jan. 17 to hand in their nomination forms. This year, because of a university policy ensuring a long winter break, students got back on Jan. 12 and only had until Jan. 16 to submit their nomination forms.

The timeline was too short, said Bui.

“People just came back from school, they’re trying to figure out their schedule and everything like that, they’re also trying to figure out if they want to run for elections,” he said.

“I think I could’ve represented the students very well in terms of what they would like to see with social events and make the largest annual events even bigger and better,” said Bui. “I also had tons of ideas to positively combat certain issues on campus.”

He then appealed to the elections committee, which backed the election director’s decision.

“The bottom line is we felt that allowing students to contravene the rules that had been previously established and advertised would have impacted the integrity of the election,” said Chris Hynes, the SFUO’s vice-president of university affairs and member of the elections committee.

“I think there’s hundreds of students on campus who also could’ve said, ‘I was working,’ ‘I was out of province,’” he said.

Bui’s next step was to put his case forward  to the Board of Administration (BOA). He enlisted the help of Meaghan Flaherty, BOA representative for the Faculty of Arts. Flaherty tried to call an emergency meeting, since the next one was slated for after the election.

However, the SFUO website hasn’t been updated with all of current BOA members’ email addresses. Flaherty said she didn’t contact even those BOA members whose email addresses were online because she still couldn’t have got a two-thirds majority vote.

“I didn’t see the point in sending to only half,” she said. “The half available online also doesn’t reflect many of the resignations that occurred last semester.”

Flaherty said she emailed the chair, Katherine Giroux Bedard, asking her to forward her request to the rest of the board. That was on Jan. 27.

“I have received absolutely no confirmation of her even receiving the email,” said Flaherty.

Giroux Bedard did not respond to the Fulcrum‘s request for a comment by the time of publication.