A reverse Whois search reveals that Danielle Sandhu, the Executive Director of the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (APUS), owns at least 11 domains names that appear to be for prospective names for University of Toronto Students’ Union election slates.
Most of the domains were registered between January 29, 2015 and February 15, 2015. Among the domains owned by Sandhu are 1uoft.com and oneuoft.com, which was the name of a slate that ran in last year’s UTSU elections.
The ownership for 1uoft.com was later transferred to Madina Siddiqui, who was 1UofT’s presidential hopeful.
Siddiqui told The Varsity that she purchased the domain from Sandhu after unsuccessfully attempting to register 1uoft.com.
“When I went to buy the 1uoft domain, I noticed it was owned by Danielle and contacted her to buy it. Thankfully, she agreed to sell it to me and I bought it,” Siddiqui said.
Sandhu also owned changeuoft.com and votechangeuoft.com until they expired. Change UofT was the name of a slate that ran in the 2015 elections. Other domains that Sandhu owns include betteruoft.com, uniteuoft.com, and transformutsu.com.
Sandhu, a graduate student, was not a member of the UTSU at the time of the elections. She served as UTSU President for the 2011–2012 academic year and was also the Women’s Commissioner for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario during that time.
At press time, Sandhu did not respond to requests for comment about her involvement.
In addition, a Whois lookup on hellouoft.com — the domain for the winning slate for last year’s UTSU elections — shows that this domain is registered to Vip Vingeswaran.
Vigneswaran was the campaign manager for Team Unite and Brighter UofT for the 2014 and 2015 UTSU elections, respectively. Though Vingeswaran had already graduated by the time of the election, he purchased the domain in December 2015.
Vigneswaran cites his GoDaddy discount as the reason for his purchase.
“I have a discount with GoDaddy, so I bought hellouoft.ca and hellouoft.com with the intention of transferring them to Jonathan Webb, who managed the Hello campaign. I transferred .ca, but transferring .com was more complicated (for technical reasons), so I just set it to redirect to .ca. The website that the campaign actually used was hellouoft.ca, and I transferred that months before the campaign began,” Vingeswaran wrote in an email to The Varsity.
When asked about his role in campaigning for Hello UofT, Vingeswaran noted that he’s “familiar with the current campaigning rules” and is “very supportive of them.”
“They ban non-members from soliciting votes, which isn’t what I did,” he stated. “I assisted some members of Hello UofT with general advice as they needed it.”
According to the UTSU’s Election’s Procedure Code (EPC), only UTSU members may be involved in campaigning. Students who are recently graduated or in a graduate studies program would no longer be associated with the UTSU.
Ownership of the domains themselves would not breach the EPC according to Ryan Gomes, who is the union’s Vice-President Professional Faculties and also the Chair of the Elections and Referenda Committee.
“The ban on non-UTSU members extends to campaigning, which requires the active solicitation of votes,” he wrote in an email. “Ownership of a domain would not be considered active solicitation unless the owners were the ones actively posting content to these websites.”