Team Unity emerged victorious in Friday’s preliminary election results, but for their opponents, the end of the election battle could be weeks away.
Current UTSU VP external Shaun Shepherd is set to replace president Danielle Sandhu. Independent presidential candidate Rohail Tanoli received slightly more votes than StudentsFirst candidate Brent Schmidt, but even with their votes combined, the two candidates would still have lost to Shepherd. The rest of Shepherd’s executive team was also elected by a wide margin.
Corey Scott will return to his post as VP internal and services. The other newly elected executive members are Noor Baig (equity), Abigail Cudjoe (external), and Munib Sajjad (university affairs).
Positions on the board of directors were split between Team Unity and independent candidates.
Eight Team Unity candidates were acclaimed to their positions.
After the UTSU elections’ highest appeal board, the Elections and Referenda Appeals Committee, reinstated Unity candidates to the race on Thursday night, Ali Mustafa Bello, Baliqis Hashiru, and Khalid Khan eked out narrow victories at New College. Non-Unity candidates, meanwhile, claimed victories at St. Michael’s College and Trinity College.
Though Team Unity won the election, it has emerged battered and openly derided in arenas of student politics like Twitter and Facebook. One Facebook note posted by Team Unity during the campaign attracted over 100 lengthy, angry responses.
Following the lead of a fake Twitter account used to censure opposition figure Brett Chang, several other fake accounts cropped up over the week to mock everyone from StudentsFirst to Team Unity.
Even though the ballots have already been counted, discontented opposition supporters who allege that the election was conducted unfairly continue to lodge formal complaints with the CRO.
A significant backlog of these complaints, appeals, and re-appeals could mean that a final conclusion to the events of the campaign may be weeks away.
Although they continue to seek resolution through established means, the opposition is also taking matters into its own hands.
Following their initial frustrations with the decisions made by chief returning officer Daniel Lo, opposition supporters have been compiling a databank of evidence pointing towards alleged infractions overlooked by Lo.
On Saturday night, they began to leak their evidence through a Facebook page created for that express purpose entitled “Unity Dirty Tricks.” The group had existed briefly during the campaign but was taken down over fears that Lo would penalize StudentsFirst candidates already teetering on the edge of disqualification.
Several opposition supporters who contributed to the databank speak optimistically about an outcome similar to York University’s in 2010. When those elections were mishandled, so many students complained that the administration stepped in to compel the union to implement electoral reform.
So far at U of T, however, the administration has been hesitant to involve itself in the affairs of the student union.
Meanwhile, for the candidates, the end of a grueling election season comes as a relief. The former three presidential hopefuls, Shaun Shepherd, Brent Schmidt, and Rohail Tanoli, have plans to meet up this week for a friendly round of drinks — for them, perhaps an opportunity for a final denouement to the drama of the campaign trail.