Election results determining the victors of the UTMSU’s 2016/17 executive team and board of directors are expected to be announced today following three days of voting, which ran from Tuesday through Thursday last week.
In an email to The Medium last Wednesday, UTMSU VP internal Francesco Otello-DeLuca explained that the union was expecting a high voter turnout for this year’s election, although numbers reflecting voter turnout have yet to be released.
In the last week of campaigning ahead of voting results, slates challenged demerit points and responded to accusations.
By the end of the elections, all candidates except independent presidential candidate Daniel Lyght racked up demerit points, including several due to some candidates allegedly accessing their UTMSU email accounts, which is unauthorized for candidates and campaign volunteers during the election.
“When an executive leaves the UTMSU on a leave of absence, they give their password or their account to the president,” explained Nour Alideeb, Unite UTM presidential candidate, who faced demerit points for allegedly accessing her email. “I get a lot of academic offence cases, so [UTMSU president Ebi Agbeyegbe] probably forwarded it to my coordinators because I’m on a leave of absence.”
At the time, Alideeb planned to appeal the notice, and as of March 6, the demerit points against both her and Unite UTM volunteer Tyrell Subban for the same allegation were crossed out and reduced to five demerits.
Emerson Calcada of UTM Awaken was also given demerit points for allegedly accessing his UTMSU email, which he denied doing.
“I sat down with the CRO and my team and we checked the last time I accessed [my email]; it was February 22,” said Calcada. The demerit points against Calcada were also reduced from 15 to five.
UTM Focus faced allegations of harassment. The Wall of Transparency reported “multiple instances where a person that has been identified as a non–arm’s length party has harassed and slander[ed] candidates from another slate”.
The ruling had been retracted and the demerits reduced to zero as of March 6.
Kamal Ali, UTM Focus candidate for VP external, was also accused of collecting nomination signatures in the UTMAC office, an area that is restricted during the election period. The demerit points assigned carried a “pending” status as of press time.
UTM Focus presidential candidate Ridwan Olow did not wish to comment on the allegations levelled against his team member.
Independent presidential candidate Ibrahim Bouteraa also received 10 demerit points for allegedly campaigning in the library.
“I was giving a stack of flyers to a friend/volunteer that I came to know from my election and I was giving him the stacks on the library fourth floor,” said Bouteraa, who claimed that an unspecified candidate running for a seat on the UTMSU board of directors filmed him while in the library. “I didn’t know that you could not have campaign material in the library.
“It was my fault, but I didn’t know that it was a breach of the rules,” said Bouteraa, who chose not to appeal the points.
Independent presidential candidate Andrew Williams also faced 25 demerit points for allegedly not providing a list of campaign volunteers and failing to use a standardized notice regarding the recycling of campaign materials.
“In terms of my flyer being environmentally friendly, there was a recycling sign on it; it did say, ‘Please dispose responsibly’,” said Williams. “It has to be a very, very specific message”.
As part of their campaign, Unite UTM pledged to donate 100 percent of their salaries to bursaries for students if they did not work towards their campaign promises next year.
“People talk a lot about accountability and transparency; one of the first things is that not all students know that UTMSU executives get paid,” said Alideeb in an interview with The Medium. “I think that this would be a great way to have more conversations with students, get them plugged in, get them working on the issues with us and, you know, uniting.”
When asked how their slate would go about evaluating whether or not their slate would return their salaries, Alideeb explained that there would be no formal judgement process to determine if their slate made an effort to fulfill their promises, but that feedback from students would be an important factor. Alideeb also did not believe that the pledge would give their slate a competitive edge against other candidates.
When asked if their slate could accomplish more than 50 campaign promises in one year, Alideeb said it is not likely for all to be accomplished but stressed the importance of laying the groundwork for future student unions.
“I think it’s important to be realistic and self-critical as to what our capacities are and what we’d be able to do in one year,” said Alideeb. “I think it’s important to set up a culture shift, to set up the framework for other individuals to come in the future to also build upwards.”
Accusations surfaced on social media Thursday evening that Unite UTM copied elements from a 2007 UTMSU slate led by current UTMSU executive director Walied Khogali, who was then running for president as part of a slate also named Unite UTM.
In an email statement, Unite UTM denied Khogali’s involvement with their campaign.
“Walied’s slate did use this same campaign tactic years ago in 2007, we believe, when he ran,” Unite UTM wrote in statement to The Medium on Friday. “Walied did NOT help our slate design our platform in any way. This campaign tactic came from knowledge, hard work, and research performed by members of our campaign team to set us apart from every other team participating in these elections”.
Unite UTM also claimed that other slates had similar promises in their campaign platforms and the needs of students have been the same for several years.
“We would also like to point out that if you take a look at every single team’s platform points and the platform points of teams that have run in the past, we’re pretty sure you can find similarities from every team to teams in the past,” the statement added. “This is due to the fact that priorities of students on the UTM campus have stayed similar to some extent and some things have yet to be accomplished so they need to be continuously worked [on].”
In an email to The Medium on Friday, Khogali denied any involvement in Unite UTM’s campaign.
“I am writing to confirm that I did not help UTM unite or any other slate or independent candidates formulate their promises,” said Khogali.
The Medium was unable to verify the authenticity of the alleged 2007 campaign poster.