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IT has come to my attention that there is a motion before the Board of Administration to dissolve the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)’s Student Arbitration Committee (SAC).

Please consider that, within the SFUO, should the Board of Administrators dissolve the SAC, it would be analogous to the Parliament of Canada abolishing the Supreme Court by majority vote.

As per By-Law No. 8.2 of the SFUO Constitution, the SAC is the “judicial authority of the Federation,” and according to By-Laws No.  8.2.1 to 8.2.3, it has the power to “interpret the By-laws, the policies, and resolutions of the Federation; decide upon the constitutionality of any action taken under the Constitution […]; impose sanctions on any member of the Federation.”

The SAC is of fundamental importance to the integrity of the federation and one of its most vital and well-known mandates is to handle allegations of election rule violations in the election of SFUO executives and other student representatives to the federation.

Independence of the SAC arbitrators is essential to enable an effective role within the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, as highlighted by an understanding of the provisions of the SFUO constitution, and I believe that, in the current context, I have done everything possible to ensure the independence of arbitrators and of the committee. There have been serious concerns with respect to the manner in which political figures within student government have tried to exercise influence on previous elections and, therefore, I am firmly opposed to the dissolution of the SAC.

Given that the bylaws have not been changed, I will continue my role as interim chief arbitrator. According to By-Law No. 8.3.4, “the President of the Federation, the Chairperson of the Board of Administration and the Chief Arbitrator of the Student Arbitration Committee shall recommend arbitrators to the Board of Administration which shall ratify them as vacancy occurs.” At this time, all the positions—except for chief arbitrator—are vacant. As such, I will schedule interviews with the 40 applicants and I trust that you and the president of the federation will be present during these interviews. Such is the law until the bylaws are changed. I would urge you to stop violating the bylaws and to actively ensure that the bylaws are respected. For actions to be taken implying that the bylaws will be changed is irresponsible, disruptive, and disregards our rules.

Hazel  Gashoka

Interim chief arbitrator of the SAC

Graduate Studies, sciences