Students United unofficially wins the election after they successfully appealed demerit points. Photo Courtesy UTM United

After two weeks of campaigning for the UTMSU spring elections, a 30% voter turnout has set a new record. Voting took place last week on March 16, 17 and 18 and unofficial results have been released. By the end of the voting period, the Yellow team unofficially gained the most votes as well as the most demerit points, with all candidates facing disqualification.

After making an appeal to the Elections and Referenda committee, Vickita Bhatt, the presidential candidate for Students United, had her 62 demerit points reduced by more than half to 30 demerit points, keeping her results eligible for ratification. Henry Ssali, presidential candidate for UTM Renew, has had 36 demerit points reduced by 10 down to 26 points.

Demerit points are issued to candidates who violate the Elections and Procedure code during the campaign period by engaging in slander, pre-campaigning, abuse of union resources and other acts that violate the Elections and Procedure code.

Representatives for the Students United team and candidates of UTM Renew had a chance to appeal the rulings of the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) Kenny Lee to the Elections and Referenda committee, which can overturn rulings made by the CRO.

According to Lee, candidates will have another opportunity to further appeal rulings to the Elections and Referenda Appeals committee. The first round of appeals were presented to UTMSU VP internal and services Carole Au Yeung, president Joey Santiago and board members Hibba Amin, with nonvoting members Lee and the elections DRO Steffi Huynh, who had their original rulings retracted.

The official appeals committee has yet to be approved by the board of directors and according to the elections and referenda committee this item will be presented at this Thursday’s board of directors meeting.

The Elections and procedure code states that 35 demerit points is the maximum any executive candidate can reach (the maximum for VP part-time affair is 30 demerit points). An unprecedented amount of complaints were filed in this year’s elections. These resulted in the entire yellow team facing disqualification.

As specified in the Elections Procedure code, the membership of the appeals committee must include one staff or executive member from the Association of Graduate Students, one staff or executive member from either UTMAC or Residence Council, one staff or executive member of a member Local of the Canadian Federation of Students’ in the Greater Toronto Area and the Chair of the Elections Committee serves as a non-voting member.

The UTMSU board, however, has not approved the membership of the committee. According to the Elections Procedure Code, “The Elections and Referenda Appeals Committee must be appointed by the Elections and Referenda Committee before the opening of the nomination period.”
Thus, the results of the spring elections remain unofficial (candidates are not deemed elected until they have been ratified by the Union’s Board at the meeting following the election results, with the condition that there is no outstanding appeal involving the candidate).

The Elections and Referenda committee has not provided any minutes to confirm appointing members to the appeals committee before a nomination period. The UTMSU website does not provide updated meeting minutes after January 2010.

Despite results being unofficial and still pending approval of the UTMSU board of directors, presidential candidate Vickita Bhatt sent out a Facebook message to members of her group “Vote Students United” stating “All the candidates from Students United won the positions they were running for!!!” Bhatt thanked students for participating in the highest voter turnout in Ontario.

No date has been set for the ratification meeting of the UTMSU Spring Elections.

  • Andrew

    And here we go for another year of rule under Walied Khogali. Since he was elected in 2007, utmsu executive salaries went from $7,200 per executive to $20,000 per executive. wonder how much it’ll go up next year.

  • Claire

    I currently share the same level of cynicism as many of my peers on campus.

    I have a lot of unanswered questions.

    How does the appointment of UTMSU VP Internal and Services, current UTMSU President and board member Hibba Amin not act as a conflict of interest? More Specifically, how am I, as a student, supposed to believe that Ms Hibba’s convictions did not interfere with her role on the ERC just because she changed her Facebook profile picture. How is she even still on the ERC if she’s proven that she is incapable of being impartial?

    My next question is more of a demand.

    I demand that UTMSU posts the minutes on its website outlining when the ERAC was appointed. If students have a concern, they should be allowed the transparency the current Union promised.

    So much bureaucracy, so little democracy.


  • Joseph Caron

    It disgusts me that her points were cut by more than half. It’s criminal. It’s absolutely ghastly and criminal that these people will be representing the students come the end of April. How can I respect someone who has no regard for rules and has no characteristic integrity, much less a group of people?

    I can’t.
    I won’t.

    This isn’t over.

  • Jasminder

    The yellow team and the current UTMSU council has disregarded democracy as a whole.

    This is appauling!! They should all be disqualified!!

    An ERC composed of Joey, Carol (both members of last year’s yellow team) and Hiba who publicly campaigned for the yellow team clearly shows a conflict of interest.

  • john smith

    In response to “This is appauling, this is criminal…and ANother Year under the Rule of Walid”

    Honestly the only year students voices were heard or things got done around here was the year he was President…..Get over yourselves…get a life and realize its only student government at the end of the day nobody takes you serious so stop shouting like these election procedures are bloody murder…

    Last time I checked talking negative about people on public forms shows your lack of character, respect and dignity and you are the reason this world is full of negativity start appreciating people for what they have to offer and not their faults…Here is where you will probably counter with free speech argument which is something someone who is on a rant would say….Well to that and all the above I say this….Nothing is wrong with voicing your opinion if it is done in an articulate thoughtful and respectful manner and does not take personal shots at someone to put them down

    PS Its only student government get over yourself you get more angry than federal government with issues

  • Heather

    @john smith
    The reason that people are getting so upset (and as should you) is because we, as students, are paying for these people to lead us as a union. In my opinion, we just got a large slap in the face when all of the people on the yellow team (and Henry of the Blue team) were able to get rid of demerits which should have put them out of the running.

    They received their demerits for a reason, and to ignore them and take them away isn’t right.

  • James

    John Smith –

    it’s only election results, please stop making a big deal about it by posting long comments. Thank you. (also, what’s the deal with freaking out about other people’s comments, supposedly for not being thoughtful and respectful, and then starting off on ad hominem attacks. Shame on you, that kind of cognitive dissonance makes you look like a troll.)

    As for the results, I think all of the Renew team should be able write articles in the Medium expressing their view. United will have a soap box to increase their visibility for another year, and the Medium should recognize that.

  • troll

    What’s more disturbing is the amount of votes and support based on ethnic solidarity and identity politics.

    Come on, everyone knows what’s really going on here, why doesn’t anyone have the balls to speak up about it?

  • Steve

    Taken into consideration how this entire election had been, I find it appropriate to declare this results unconstitutional, and a sad defeat to common sense.

    How in the world in a logic sense, could you undo a mistake that has been committed? You made a mistake and it costed you $50; you appeal and now you pay $25. Does that change that fact that the mistake is still there???

    Today is a sad day for UTM.

  • Dan

    Aren’t newspapers supposed to be objective and free of bias? Its no suprise that these articles are written in a way to manipulate the student body considering that Stephanie Marotta the VP external canidate for Renew was an executive on it.

    Also, I understand that the Yellow team can be seen as a dynasty of sorts, but what does Renew offer that stands out looking just at the platforms…what do the individual candidates bring that would improve the school lets see…

    1. The go bus route which will increase tuition fees
    2. They say they want to work side by side with the admin…really a student union when for the past years the two have been in opposition…
    3. The canidates were not able to get as many club endorsements as the yellow team…also a certain club endorsed the yellow team even though one of its execs is on the blue team…

    • Hi Dan,

      Just thought I would clarify your point about Stefanie Marotta. She was not an executive on The Medium. She worked under the news editor as an assistant. Prior to campaigning and the election process, she resigned and has not been involved with The Medium since.


  • Adam

    Comment removed due to a violation of the terms of use Medium online

  • afm

    Try to be civil. Everything will be fine. It stinks that so many demerit points were issued and appealed, but that is how it is.

  • Mary

    Hold on a minute – isn’t the idea behind a demerit point NOT to get any to begin with? If BOTH parties are getting close to if not more that the demerit points allowed.

    BTW, this article is a little too one-sided. I feel like I am reading a blog rather than an actual news article.

  • john Smith

    Looking at the Clubs who endorsed the yellow team and the fact that the yellow team had more votes…Demerit points or no demerit points people wanted the yellow team and not the blue team so you can cry out demerit points or formalities all you want but the votes speak the loudest and UTM wants the yellow team so get over the fact that your desired team lost and show the yellow some support in whatever form it may be so they can achieve positive change…the more negativity you bring towards them the less effective they can do their job

    @ James…James the problem with people like yourself who only blog is you are talkers and your passion for change will not go beyond talking or writing articles….Why don’t you get involved in the politics (if you havent already and lost) to try and do something about it instead of just sitting back and complaining about it…as towards your cognitive comment I say NO SHAME ON YOU there is a difference between an ill led retaliation out of anger and a well articulted argument….

    Finally, the blue team got demerit points too last time I checked but seems like this one sided form wants to ignore those

  • Peter

    The issue is not GETTING demerit points, it is how those points are removed.

    My favourite is Vickita is charged with Unintentional Misrepresentation of facts, which is then reduced from the amount given because it is unintentional. Whereas the same complaint regarding Marc and Stefanie is not changed… That is biased. That is a double standard and that is the issue.

  • Anthony

    Personally, I do not think many people care about student politics. Why do I say this? Well, the 30% voting turnout rate kind of gives it away. It is obviously clear that the majority of UTM students (70%) do not care about who is in charge of its student union. Why? Because of occurrences like the “demerit points scandal.” A rule/policy was in place, candidates broke them, and no consequences were enforced.

    Rules and policies are in place for a reason. They are meant to create fairness and promote ethic behaviour. However, if rules can be broken, and policies can be ignored, then these “regulations” never existed in the first place. They are only there to create positive images for organizations like UTMSU and the Elections and Referenda committee.

    So when things like this happen, I believe that students begin to realize that there is no appropriate governance, and/or that the political drama is too much for them to handle. I feel that these (constant) occurrences inhibit students from caring, and in the end, cause them to believe that any UTMSU student body will do whatever it pleases.

    If many UTM students, like myself, feel this way, then what’s the point of voting?

  • anon

    If you take the dataset from and average the percentage difference before/after appeal for demerit points, there is a clearer picture of the bias in terms of removing demerit points from United.

  • Jane Doe

    The initials of “John Smith” (JS) seem to be similar to that of a UTMSU president. Oddly enough, the tone JS used is also of the same nature as the president’s response to various other editorials.


  • A

    @ Jane Doe
    – You’re using the female version of that alias. You’re thinking a little too much into this “JS” business. Chill. This isn’t a semiotics class.

    @ John Smith
    – Excellent points

    @ everyone else
    – demerits or no demerits, yellow team won by a landslide.

  • A

    OUR VOTING does not affect demerit points .The students voted and made their decision. If it were all about demerit points, then the students’ voices are ignored – and then a team is selected not by us, but by default because they successfully got the other team disqualified.

    Who wants to win that way?

    Yellow ran a strong campaign. It’s that simple because in the end …you guys are right – most students DON’T care about the elections. They end up choosing the team that appealed to them the most. They don’t have demerit points and appeals in mind.

  • Joe Schmo

    @Jane Doe

    Hey, leave my buddy John alone