Katharine Ball has been re-elected for a second term as president of the Arts and Science Students Union (ASSU), with a clear mandate.
“It’s really great to finally be elected,” said Ball after her victory.
Ball was acclaimed to the position of president last year and also acclaimed as an executive member the year before. “I appreciated the chance to be judged by my peers and to discuss my ideas during the election,” she said.
Ball received 30 votes while runner-up Manisha Kaura, who currently serves on the ASSU executive, received seven.
“The results are quite surprising,” said Kaura, after the vote took place. “I thought people would really respond to my platform.”
Kaura ran on a platform that included abolishing the presidential honorarium of $10,000 and redistributing the funds to research grants and scholarships.
Attempts by student politicians to highlight what they claim are bloated executive salaries have found little traction with voters. A group named “Stop the Salaries” appeared last fall (in which Kaura was not involved) and failed to win its pet cause any serious attention in the recently-concluded UTSU elections.
Unlike the UTSU elections, in which any student member can vote, the ASSU election uses course union executives as proxies to determine the executive.
“There are 50 course unions, each with two votes, so in theory there should be 100 people in the room,” said Lanor Mallon, chief returning officer for the election.
Kaura confirmed she will seek office again in the fall, when elections for the remainder of the ASSU executive are scheduled to take place.
“This election has certainly been more hotly contested then those in the past few years,” said Mallon.
ASSU elections have been relatively calm of late. After an election scandal three years ago, university administration stepped in, withholding student fees until sufficient electoral reforms had been instituted. The intervention was staged after The Varsity published evidence proving ballot-stuffing and voter fraud on the part of the incumbents.
“There is an excellent set of guidelines that has been produced since the problematic elections three years ago,” said Mallon. “There have been no similar issues this election,” he explained.
In addition to the presidential elections, four executive-at-large positions were also filled.
Incumbent ASSU executive members Shawn Tian, Onaizah Onaizah, and Sarah Ball (Katharine’s younger sister) were all re-elected for a second term.
“I’m not sure what to say; I feel really happy right now,” said Tian.
“For me, ASSU is a community. It’s a friendly place to come by any time,” said Onaizah.
Sarah Ball vowed to continue her efforts to provide “outreach to our most marginalized students.”
Joining the slate of incumbent executives is Megan O’Neil, current president of the Canadian Studies Students’ Union. O’Neil ran on a platform of improving the relationship between course unions and ASSU executive.
“I would really love to have a course union social, to meet each other, to network and really get us off to the races at the beginning of the year,” said O’Neil.
Shaun Shepherd, UTSU president-elect, addressed the room while votes were tabulated.
“I want to congratulate everyone for being here,” said Shepherd. “It takes a lot of courage to run for a position. By encouraging students to get involved in unions and their own education, we can create a better university for all.”