According to unofficial results announced last Monday, Unite UTM has swept UTMSU’s spring election and won all of the seats for the 2016/17 executive team.
The unofficial results of the election were released last Monday after voting ended on March 10. The results showed more than 8,000 votes accumulated by Unite UTM, defeating the three other slates and three independent candidates running for the executive team.
Unite UTM presidential candidate Nour Alideeb came out on top with 1,717 votes, a total of 1,403 votes more than what each presidential candidate accumulated when combined.
“When we got the email and saw the results, I was personally shocked and overwhelmed,” said Alideeb, who is currently UTMSU’s VP university affairs and academics, in an email to The Medium. “I couldn’t have been happier and more grateful to the rest of my team and dedicated volunteers who worked day in and day out to make this all happen”.
Also elected from Unite UTM was VP internal and services candidate Jackie Zhao, who won 1,811 votes. VP university and affairs candidate Vanessa Demello won with 1,808 votes, Marise Hopkins gained 1,612 votes to be elected VP external, and VP equity candidate Maleeha Baig received 1,732 votes for the win.
The unofficial results must be ratified by the elections and referenda committee. Francesco Otello-DeLuca, chair of UTMSU’s election review committee and chief returning officer Bryan Chelvanaigum did not respond when asked by The Medium when the results would be passed and made official.
When asked what the executive committee will first work on when they take office on May 1, Alideeb noted pending MiWay negotiations as one of the slate’s first priorities.
“Our team is very eager to get started on the issues we and many other students care about; with that being said, it’s difficult to pick one thing we want to accomplish first,” said Allideeb. “Since negotiations with MiWay will be taking place this summer, we’re very excited to get started with that!”
Following the election result announcement, independent presidential candidate Andrew Williams spoke to The Medium regarding his concerns about the election.
“The system to me seemed kind of flawed this year,” said Williams. “It seemed like some people were at a severe disadvantage sometimes and the system helped other people a bit.”
In an interview with The Medium, Williams claimed that various slates were reprimanded for trying to report actions by Unite UTM.
“One of my friends on another team told me he got demerit points for that,” said Williams, who also alleged that Unite UTM held meetings during the election’s silent period when candidates are not allowed to begin campaigning. “I heard that they had a volunteer training session. How can that not count as pre-campaigning?”
Williams declined to reveal his sources.
“I feel like these rumours discredit the hard work that we and our volunteers committed and frankly, it disrespects our students,” said Alideeb in response to the allegations. “I too have heard many things about other candidates that I do not wish to disclose because I do not want to disrespect the work and integrity of the candidates who ran.”
Williams also said that he accumulated a total of 38 demerit points during the elections, but as of March 10, the final day of elections, his points only amounted to 25 listed on the wall of transparency.
“I don’t know what the process is for putting things up on the board of transparency,” said Williams. “To be honest with you, I don’t know if all the demerit points were [posted]”.
When asked by The Medium if all demerit points were listed on the election’s wall of transparency prior to the conclusion of the election, Chelvanaigum and Otello-DeLuca did not respond to questions.
Concerns were also raised by independent presidential candidates Daniel Lyght and Ibrahim Bouteraa regarding the hiring of the election’s chief returning officer, Chelvanaigum. The two candidates cited concerns regarding Chelvanaigum’s previous relationships with UTMSU candidates and claimed his personal involvement with the student union would bias him during the elections.
According to Lyght and Bouteraa, the pair presented a letter to the ERC during the all candidates meeting on February 27 expressing their concerns with Chelvanaigum’s ability to serve in the position.
“We are seeking the replacement of Bryan Chelvanaigum as chief returning officer of this year’s UTMSU elections in the interest of fairness, and respect to candidates’ and students’ efforts and intelligence,” read the letter. “Given his prior background and relationships with the UTMSU and its past/present candidates, executives, and staff, it is nothing short of outrageous that Chelvanaigum has been instated as CRO.”
In an interview with The Medium, Lyght further clarified the intentions of the letter.
“My appeal was that [Chelvanaigum] should be removed as CRO or have some of his duties taken away from him,” said Lyght.
Despite the concerns raised, Chelvanaigum remained in his position. Neither Chelvanaigum nor Otello-DeLuca responded to The Medium’s request for comment.