Update (April 8, 2016 at 9:25 p.m.):
UTSU president Ben Coleman’s response regarding the reasons behind the appeals has been added.
All members of the 1UofT slate running for the UTSU elections have been disqualified and a motion passed ratifying the new election results at UTSU’s board meeting held at UTM
With the disqualification, the only seat that was won by a 1UofT candidate—Carina Zhang, who was running for VP internal and services—has now been claimed by Mathias Memmel from Hello U of T.
Following recent rulings by the Elections Review Committee, 1UofT was given an increased number of demerit points for violating the elections and procedures code, thereby exceeding the permissible 35 demerits points allowed for each candidate. The violations included using non-English text on the slate’s online campaigning materials without an English translation. The CRO had previously issued two demerit points to each member of the slate for the violation, but following appeals by both slates, the ERC decided to increase the demerit points to 15 for each member.
The CRO had also originally issued three demerit points for each 1UofT candidate for using untranslated non-English text on the slate’s social media pages. Subsequently, the ERC chose to increase it to six points for each slate member except for Zhang, who was issued 10 points for her personal involvement in the posting of the material.
At Thursday’s meeting, Andre Fast, 1UofT’s VP external candidate, asked the board members to “vote down” the minutes of the ERC, arguing that it is unfair to disqualify the whole team for one team member who campaigned in a language other than English.
Hashim Yussuf, a UTM director on UTSU’s board, added that a lot of international students have difficulty speaking English and questioned why the candidate can’t talk to students in the language they are most comfortable with.
Coleman explained that all campaign materials have to be translated and that each candidate is responsible for conveying a consistent message to all UTSU members.
“The CRO has some limitations in making rulings—namely he does not have time to consider arguments from candidates or think about the bigger picture when making rulings; this is more properly the role of the ERC if a ruling is appealed,” said Coleman when asked on what basis the ERC made the rulings leading to 1UofT’s disqualification.
Some of the demerit points issued to 1UofT were due to “unsolicited campaigning by an arms-length party”, involving Nour Alideeb, UTMSU’s incoming president and the current VP university affairs and academics. Alideeb was accused of sending mass texts on behalf of 1UofT, including to some phone numbers belonging to non-UTSU members that were obtained as a result of her position on UTMSU. Four demerit points were issued to every member of the slate for the violation.
“I want to reassure students that the allegation made about my conduct with respect to student information is completely false,” said Alideeb in an email to The Medium. “I have never used UTMSU resources for the purposes of campaigning in elections.”
“As you may know, smartphones allow the syncing of contacts from Facebook,” she said, explaining that she was friends with the complainant on Facebook and that the complainant’s phone number from Facebook was synced to Alideeb’s phone as a result.
“I sent a mass campaign text to my personal contacts and this included [the complainant],” she said.
Madina Siddiqui, 1UofT’s presidential candidate, was also issued 11 demerit for using the “acquired benefit from the office held by one of its members”. The charge alleges that Siddiqui, who is the Afghan Students’ Association president, allowed her slate to benefit from the group’s free office space.
Siddiqui did not immediately respond to The Medium’s request for comment.
The rest of the slate members received five demerit points for the violation.
Although the election results were passed by the UTSU board, they must pass at the Annual Ratification Meeting later this month to be made official.