Don't opt out: click here to learn more about our work.

To next year’s unions: less controversy, more engagement, please

Reviewing this year’s SCSU, UTGSU, UTSU, and UTMSU

To next year’s unions: less controversy, more engagement, please

Thanks to last year’s levy increase, The Varsity has expanded its tri-campus and graduate affairs coverage. We are proud to comprehensively report on the governance and election cycles of four major student unions: the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU); the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU); the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU).

With the emergence of a common threat — the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative — student media and governments must remain committed, more than ever, to serving U of T students, earning their trust, and defending campus life. So let’s remember, student unions: our job is to keep students informed, and yours is to represent them.

As the academic year comes to an end, there is no better way to inform students than to review campus politics from the last year. All four unions must do better if we are to have meaningful student democracy.

For next year, let’s hope for more competitive and contested elections, more engagement with the membership, and unequivocal freedom of the press to cover student politics.

The SCSU

SCSU elections were the first of the season, and the most controversial. Unfortunately, controversy had been striking the union all year. In the fall, multiple food safety scandals raised serious concerns about sanitary practices on campus. Yet the union did not respond with meaningful action.

In December, the Board of Directors voted unanimously on a motion put forward by Director of Political Science Raymond Dang that would regulate and limit student media access to board meetings. Dang accused student media of “abusing their positions” and “misrepresenting the reality of the situation.”

The duty of media is to freely and independently hold those in power  to account. During the 2019 SCSU elections, Dang expressed some regret for the policy. But it nonetheless demonstrated anti-democratic tendencies on the part of the union.

SCSU elections were, however, the most competitive and contested of the four unions. Two slates faced off, making for an engaged race, and ending in a split executive. But everything else was pure chaos.

One presidential candidate, SCSYou’s Anup Atwal, was questionably disqualified early on for multiple campaign violations. He made noise when he claimed that fellow presidential candidate, Shine Bright UTSC’s Chemi Lhamo, hit another candidate with a table, which Lhamo denied. Post-disqualification, he was exposed by The Underground, UTSC’s student paper, for making transphobic remarks about Vice-President (VP) Equity candidate Leon Tsai in a leaked group chat.

Controversy did not conclude once the election results were released. President-elect Lhamo became the target of an online harassment campaign due to her views on Tibetan independence. The story became a world headline.

Some U of T students agree with demands for the nullification of her election. But it is important that students respect democratic outcomes and demand change through voting or running as candidates themselves. Most importantly, it is unacceptable that an elected candidate face threats of violence.

Drama continued when the board refused to ratify Rayyan Alibux, who had been elected as VP Operations. Concerns were raised regarding Alibux’s involvement in Atwal’s transphobic remarks. In a Varsity op-ed, Alibux reasonably questioned the legality of the SCSU’s decision. The SCSU later reversed its decision and ratified Alibux.

The new SCSU must correct for the anti-democratic tendencies of its predecessors and ensure that elections are run competitively and fairly. And of course, it must cut the controversy.

The UTGSU

In December, the UTGSU Annual General Meeting (AGM) failed to meet quorum. As such, it was unable to pass important motions, including its 2017–2018 audited financial statements. Members were frustrated and some worried that the organization would financially default to the university.

At the General Council meeting immediately following the AGM, conflict arose between Varsity journalists and the council. The journalists were offered seating on the condition that they would not photograph or live-tweet the events, the latter of which they purposefully ignored as directed by The Varsity’s editors.

Live-tweeting helps ensure transparency, allows The Varsity to keep a public record of governance events, and makes meetings accessible to those who cannot attend. But The Varsity’s journalists were asked to leave.

These issues were resolved only recently. Over the course of several months, The Varsity had to defend its interest in reporting on the events of the union, and we still differ in our views of how the union’s activities should be scrutinized. Ultimately, journalists’ attendance at UTGSU meetings is still subject to challenge from UTGSU members.

The union’s elections were overwhelmingly dominated by incumbents. Five of the seven individuals elected are returning to positions they held last year. This suggests that insiders will retain control of the organization, and that little is likely to change.

Moreover, only five per cent of eligible students voted, demonstrating that engagement with the union is very weak. This undermines the credibility and mandate of the elected representatives.

Nevertheless, The Varsity is able to provide a valuable service to our readership, which overlaps with the UTGSU’s membership, by reporting on the union’s activities and working to increase awareness. We hope the UTGSU works to smooth out its operations, address engagement, and, in time, fully accept the importance of our presence in the room.

The UTMSU

This year, the UTMSU made significant changes both internally and externally. During their AGMs, the UTMSU and UTSU voted unanimously to separate.

With this separation, funds paid to the UTSU by UTM students will instead be paid to the UTMSU to directly improve campus life there. This is a step in the right direction. According to incoming President Atif Abdullah, one way these funds could be used is to create more bursaries for UTM students.

After intense debate at the AGM, students voted to reject online voting in UTMSU elections. This was disappointing. As UTM is a commuter campus, online voting is the most accessible means to involve students in campus governance. Incorporating online voting could have increased voter turnout at UTM, which was 13 per cent last year.

It is clear that the UTMSU has not made itself accessible to students. In this year’s election, the Students United slate swept all five executive positions. There was no other slate, and the majority of positions were uncontested.

If students were engaged, the race would have been more competitive. UTMSU executives should take a closer look at how they operate and what they can do to improve student engagement, and not just during elections.

For starters, the UTMSU should be more transparent by letting The Medium, UTM’s student paper, do its job. Earlier this year, a conflict between the two was publicized. The Medium has its flaws, including questionable journalistic standards, but nonetheless serves as an important voice at UTM, keeping students informed about their elected representatives. As such, the UTMSU should invite criticism from The Medium — not seek to limit it.

To its credit, the UTMSU has been able to introduce a U-Pass and the course retake policy, and extend the credit/no credit deadline. These have taken years to develop and implement and are important to UTM students. If the UTMSU worked to increase transparency with The Medium and facilitate engagement among students, it could achieve much more. 

The UTSU

At the UTSU AGM last fall, slates were banned from future elections. Slates had previously enabled teams of candidates to run under organized platforms.

UTSU President Anne Boucher claimed that independent candidates, as opposed to slated candidates, would offer voters a better understanding of the individual running as opposed to the team to which they belong. Many also criticize slates for an elitist culture that favours insiders. In theory, these are valid perspectives that justify the ban.

But the same night that slates were banned, another remarkable phenomenon took place: the UTSU failed to maintain the required quorum of 50 attendees. This despite being one of the largest student unions in Canada. This spoke to the UTSU’s longstanding and fundamental engagement problem.

The UTSU’s attempt to make elections more accessible to outsiders by banning slates, when the union continued to face, and had yet to resolve, its engagement problem, turned out to be a huge miscalculation. The casualty was the 2019 UTSU election.

This year, no candidates ran for three of the seven executive positions, including the crucial VP Operations and Student Life roles that are needed this summer to draft a budget and prepare for orientation. There were also no candidates for 18 out of 28 Board of Director positions — which means it will be unable to meet quorum and function. The 10 positions that had candidates were all uncontested.

The lack of candidates and contested positions is extremely concerning, and reflects the lowest level of engagement in recent history. Voters responded in kind: turnout was 4.2 per cent — the worst of all four unions this year — and no executive candidates garnered 1,000 votes.

This contrasts with the three previous spring elections, where candidates tended to surpass this threshold and voter turnout was at least double. In those elections, there was at least one full slate competing.

In practice, slates serve to ensure that a given team fields candidates for all available positions, and by running under an organized platform, more easily engages voters. Only after securing a record of stronger engagement and turnout should the UTSU have considered a slate ban.

As it stands, the 2019–2020 UTSU has an extremely weak mandate to govern. The current UTSU has been forced to hold by-elections in April to address the unfilled positions, before the new term starts in May. Given that these elections will occur during exam season, we have low expectations for the quality of campaigning and level of engagement from students.

Next year, the UTSU’s priority must be to market itself better, recognizing that students do not feel heard, represented, or connected to it. It must launch a campaign that builds a better relationship with students to justify its existence and its fees, and improve voter and candidate turnout for next year’s election.

Externally, it must be more vocal vis-à-vis the university administration with student concerns like the weather cancellation policy and mental health resources. And, of course, it — alongside the three other unions — must lobby the provincial government to minimize the impact that the Student Choice Initiative and Ontario Student Assistance Program changes have on student life and finances.

The Varsity’s editorial board is elected by the masthead at the beginning of each semester. For more information about the editorial policy, email editorial@thevarsity.ca.

Op-ed: The SCSU’s refusal to ratify my election was illegal

The VP Operations-elect calls on the union to reverse its decision and apologize

Op-ed: The SCSU’s refusal to ratify my election was illegal

As students, we are supposed to be able to trust our elected student unions to advocate for student issues, rights, and interests when no one else will. But in the case of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), it is unfortunate that it has failed to fulfil the role it was elected to do.

Just like their predecessors, the Board of Directors this year has shown that the laws only apply where it sees fit. Having already dealt with an attempt by the SCSU to have me removed from last year’s election, I can attest firsthand that the SCSU attempts to intimidate students from challenging them. In this year’s election, I was elected by UTSC students to serve as Vice-President Operations. But on February 26, the board chose to illegally refuse to ratify my election.

The basis for the refusal was my presence in a group chat in which I supposedly condoned another individual’s transphobic comments, even though my only comments were “Good God” followed by “I hope this chat is never leaked.” One individual publicly described me as a “good racist”  on social media.

The blatant attempts to skew what was said and defame my character were aggravating enough. But when another board member admitted to me in a private message that they were aware of the context behind the statement and understood that I was not to blame for someone else’s transphobic comments, and yet still chose not to communicate this context to the board in my defence — that is what has convinced me that this ratification process was one conducted with malice.

Ultimately, the board’s decision was made with incorrect interpretations of SCSU bylaws. There is no way that our student union is so ignorant that it is not aware of the laws, especially when it is its job to understand them. Its decision was made on the basis that candidates cannot be deemed elected until they have been ratified by the board. However, as per the Elections Procedure Code itself, there are only two circumstances in which the board can refuse ratification.

The first is if the board refuses to accept the entire report by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO), on the grounds that the election was deemed to be conducted illegally, for instance, through vote manipulation, tampering, or demerits. The second is if a recommendation to refuse ratification is made by the Elections Appeals Committee, which may only make a judgment based on the violations ruled on by the CRO.

Having approved the CRO’s report, the board has formally provided its consent that its findings were legitimate, and that there was no tampering within the election, eliminating its grounds for the first circumstance. The CRO found no evidence of violations by me, as per his report, and since there were no appeals, the Elections Appeals Committee could not advise the board to refuse my ratification, eliminating the grounds for the second circumstance.

What this means is that the board either does not know its own bylaws or is willingly breaking them. But it does not end there. In addition to breaking its own bylaws, the board has incidentally broken provincial law too. As a corporation, it must follow the Ontario Corporations Act (OCA).

Consider Section 127.1(2), which states that directors and officers of corporations subject to the OCA, like the SCSU, must act in accordance with the bylaws of their corporation and the OCA. As per the Elections Procedure Code, officers are elected by a plurality of votes and the voting members — the students — are the ones who cast the ballot. This does not grant the SCSU the authority to dismiss the results of the ballot without recommendation from the Elections Appeals Committee. The SCSU’s lack of due process for intervening within a democratic election is a clear violation of the law.

Also consider Section 127.1(1), which confirms that the SCSU board must act in good faith. Failure to ratify the democratically elected VP Operations on illegitimate grounds, refusal to allow candidates to make their case to the board, defamation of candidates, and disregard for its own bylaws does not demonstrate the diligence, prudence, and care that is required from our representatives on the board.

In sum, the SCSU has broken multiple laws — both its own and those of the province. I am offering the SCSU the opportunity to own up to its own mistake. Ratify me as is legally obligated and, on behalf of the students, admit that you messed up and do the unthinkable: apologize.

Indeed, all SCSU board members at the ratification should publicly apologize for trying to subvert the law behind false pretenses, for defaming me and my colleagues, and apologize to the students for continuing the SCSU tradition of breaking the little trust we have toward our union.

Rayyan Alibux is a third-year Political Science and Business Economics student at UTSC. He was elected SCSU Vice-President Operations but his election was not ratified by the Board of Directors.

SCSYou candidates prevail in election recount

Rayyan Alibux to be VP Operations, Tebat Kadhem to be VP Equity

SCSYou candidates prevail in election recount

Roughly a week after the initial Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) election results were released, a recount involving two executive races has ended, and in both cases, SCSYou candidates won.

Rayyan Alibux, SCSYou’s candidate for Vice-President Operations, won over Shine Bright UTSC’s Kevin Turingan 711671, with 107 spoiled ballots. Alibux was an independent presidential candidate in last year’s election and came in second behind Nicole Brayiannis.

Tebat Kadhem, the SCSYou candidate for Vice-President Equity, won by a slim margin over Shine Bright UTSC’s Leon Tsai, the current Director of Historical and Cultural Studies on the SCSU board, 708–696, with 90 spoiled ballots.

When initial results were announced on Saturday, recounts were initiated for these two races due to a narrow margin of votes. According to the SCSU Elections Procedure Code, any race with a difference of less than five per cent between each candidate triggers an automatic recount.

With these results comes an end to a weeks-long campaign at UTSC, with next year’s executive to be split among the two slates.

Shine Bright UTSC’s Chemi Lhamo and Sarah Mohamed were elected President and Vice-President Campus Life, respectively.

SCSYou’s Carly Sahagian and Chaman Bukhari were elected Vice-President Academics & University Affairs and Vice-President External, respectively.

A recap of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union elections

Table throwing allegations, “disgusting, transphobic” comments

A recap of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union elections

The attention on this year’s Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) elections has been largely focused on non-policy related matters, namely the allegation of an SCSYou candidate being hit by a table, harassment of now-president-elect Chemi Lhamo of Shine Bright UTSC for her personal activism, and an anti-LGBTQ+ comment from disqualified SCSYou presidential candidate Anup Atwal.

As the election comes to a close, The Varsity looks back at the major events of the campaign period.

The table incident

Atwal was disqualified on February 5 after receiving too many demerit points. A large number of these were in response to an “unapproved” social media post, which was ruled by the SCSU’s Elections and Referenda Committee on January 25 to have contained “an unreported incident which contained broad accusations.”

In this post, Atwal wrote that candidates were “shoving, yelling, hitting each other with tables (literally), throwing things at each others posters so they can fall and you can put up yours.”

In the following days, Atwal claimed that Lhamo hit SCSYou’s Vice-President Academic & University Affairs candidate Carly Sahagian with a table, a claim that Lhamo said is categorically false.

Video clips later posted show Lhamo asking Sahagian and bystanders about the incident if she had hit her, to which Sahagian answered yes and bystanders — including Lhamo’s running-mate Raymond Dang — answered no.

Chief Returning Officer Philip Scibor handed Atwal 20 demerit points for a “Gross Misrepresentation of Facts,” and posting unapproved campaign material on social media on January 25 for these claims.

“Days after that, I keep hearing from first years when I’m going and campaigning, ‘Oh, I heard you’re the one that hit someone,’” Lhamo explained. “It sucks to have to win someone’s vote by trying to bust myths first… That is creating such a big disadvantage for any candidate because you’re having to defend yourself before you can say, ‘Hi, my name is Chemi.’”

Online harassment of Lhamo for Tibetan activism

In the run-up to the release of the election results, Lhamo’s social media was attacked with comments that mostly concerned her outspoken stance on the Tibetan independence movement.

On her Lunar New Year post on Instagram, Lhamo received about 10,000 comments in the span of a day. Other recent posts have also been affected. Many of the comments included Chinese flag emojis, personal attacks, racist slurs, and vulgar words in English and Chinese.

“It’s been blowing up since the day after the elections,” Lhamo wrote to The Varsity. “It is concerning, not so much about my safety but rather the safety of our Canadian rights.”

“This is just an example of China’s long arms, how they still think and inherently believe that they can intimidate me into not running for Presidency,” said Lhamo.

According to Lhamo, the heads of security at UTSC and the U of T President’s office are both aware of the situation.

Lhamo said, “To all the students, I’m standing tall and strong, so stand with me. I’m not afraid because I know I stand on side of the truth and justice.”

“Disgusting, transphobic” comments

Following Atwal’s disqualification from receiving too many demerit points, a screenshot of a group chat in which Atwal made a transphobic comment about Shine Bright UTSC’s Vice President Equity candidate Leon Tsai was leaked to UTSC’s student newspaper The Underground.

Tsai is a transgender woman who ran on an LGBTQ+-friendly platform. The vote count for Vice-President Equity was within a five per cent margin and has been sent to an automatic recount as of press time.

Armaan Sahgal, who ran for Director of Critical Development Studies with SCSYou, was revealed to be the one who leaked the chat.

“Someone close to me sent [The Underground] the first screenshot to see if they would publish it, then put me in contact with them and I DMed them the rest on Messenger,” Sahgal wrote to The Varsity.

“[Atwal’s] comments about Leon Tsai were disgusting, transphobic, and hateful,” wrote Sahgal. “Voters have a right to know about his views especially considering Anup’s expressed intent to appeal his disqualification and call for a re-vote.”

According to Sahgal, after The Underground’s article went live, Anup messaged the group chat, “threatening” to sue both Sahgal and The Underground.

Sahgal provided a screenshot of Atwal writing to the group chat that it’s “going to now become a legal suit against Underground AND @Armaan.”

However, Sahgal wrote to The Varsity, “I stand by my platform, I stand by the platforms of our great exec candidates such as Tebat Kadhem and others, and I stand by the electoral reform agenda we at SCSYou have put forth to the public… I stand by the electorate’s right to be informed.”

Kadhem is SCSYou’s Vice-President Equity candidate.

When The Varsity asked Atwal about the leak, he said that he did not want to make any particular comments, but that “context is super important.”

In screenshots he sent to The Varsity to provide such context, Atwal is shown further criticizing Tsai for posting about what she saw as SCSYou candidates’ mishandling of LGBTQ+ issues.

A day after Atwal’s messages were leaked, The Underground received an anonymous screenshot showing a Facebook chat with SCSYou’s Vice-President External candidate Chaman Bukhari.

In the screenshot, an anonymous person is shown asking Bukhari, “How was it,” to which Bukhari replied in Urdu, “Fuzool” and “Wohi LGBTQ [bakwas].”

The Varsity translated Bukhari’s text to “useless” and “the same LGBTQ bullshit.”

However, Bukhari defended his comment as being “grossly misinterpreted” and “utterly lacking context,” and added that it was almost two years old.

Although Bukhari knows the identity of the woman who leaked the screenshot, Bukhari told The Varsity in an email, “I refuse to stoop to tactics beneath me and I do not find it appropriate to reveal her name.”

“It is amusing how offense from two years ago can be realized when someone begins to run for office. Ultimately, it’s an inevitable part of politics and I welcome a healthy environment of criticism.”

Bukhari said that he does not hold anything against The Underground. “If I truly stand for freedom of expression, I stand for it whether the news favours me or not,” said Bukhari. “I personally loved the article… The popcorn at home has run out.”

Tsai has not responded to The Varsity’s requests for comment.

— With files from Josie Kao

Editor’s Note (February 11, 3:30 pm): An earlier version of this article suggested that in video clips of the table incident, Sahagian denied that Lhamo hit her. In fact, Sahagian continued to allege that Lhamo did.

The curious case of Anup Atwal

The drama-ridden 2019 SCSU elections can be understood backward and its lessons must be lived forward

The curious case of Anup Atwal

Student union elections provide student politicians and voters the opportunity to discuss the possibilities of change and improvement to livelihood on campus. The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) spring election was supposed to be no different.

Debate

In an exciting start, UTSC student newspaper The Underground hosted a debate on February 1. Shine Bright UTSC, SCSYou, and independent executive candidates took to the stage to present their platforms, answer questions, and display their smack-talk ability. Of note was the rivalry between Shine Bright UTSC’s presidential candidate, Chemi Lhamo, and SCSYou’s presidential candidate, Anup Atwal.

Atwal’s answers to debate questions reflected his solemnity and passion as a presidential candidate. Students responded positively when he addressed student issues like financial security and academics.

Atwal also took the opportunity to criticize current Director of Political Science and Vice-President Academics & University Affairs candidate Raymond Dang for proposing a motion to limit media at SCSU meetings in December. Dang later expressed some regret, claiming that he “absolutely never intended to make that policy about controlling media.”

Atwal’s criticism was well-founded. Dang’s motion was a self-caused controversy. Hopefully, his participation in the Underground-hosted debate has pushed him to better recognize the value of the campus press. Indeed, for student media to host student politicians not only better informs student voters, but also creates a positive image of student engagement and campus democracy.

Drama

However, the debate was soon followed by the issuance of demerit points. By February 5, Lhamo had received 25, while Atwal was handed enough points to be officially disqualified from elections for multiple violations, including criticisms of Dang, described in the notice as a “direct and misleading comment towards another candidate.”

But Atwal’s disqualification was not justified given the accuracy of his comments. He was right to subsequently criticize the SCSU for undermining free speech. Furthermore, given his resonance with students, especially as the Scarborough Campus Union Reform Club president, the demerit point system detracted from what could have been an exciting contest.

It more or less guaranteed the presidency to Lhamo, an establishment politician. Although independent candidate John John received 519 votes, only Atwal had presented a serious challenge to Lhamo. This likely lessened student motivation to vote and therefore the chances of other SCSYou candidates to be voted in. But the drama did not stop there.

Atwal was shrouded with even more controversy when fellow slate member Armaan Sahgal leaked a chat to The Underground. It exposed Atwal for transphobic remarks directed toward Leon Tsai, Shine Bright UTSC’s Vice-President Equity candidate. There is no doubt that this was a turning point in the election in terms of Atwal’s reputation.

Even as a candidate advocating for change in the SCSU, Atwal failed to perceive his own actions as requiring remorse and reform — for example, he has been called out for his transphobic remarks, but refuses to apologize and stands by his words. He ultimately drew much attention to the election for the wrong reasons, and his initial association with action and policy has been replaced by drama. Public opinion has justifiably turned against him.

Running for an important position of power means being responsible and accountable for one’s actions, both in public and private spheres — the ability of a student politician to conduct themselves with dignity and command the respect of voters is as important as matters of policy debate. Atwal has disregarded these responsibilities as SCSYou’s leader, and thus he has seriously compromised the quality of the election at UTSC.

Democracy

But students have voted in a new SCSU executive. Although a split ticket, I hope that the executive learn to work together and overcome the election’s negativity to effectively develop policy and address student needs. Interestingly, Dang was outvoted by SCSYou candidate Carly Sahagian, whom he had called “utterly unqualified” during the debate, another comment unappreciated by students. In this sense, the election was a success: students cast informed votes based on candidates’ questionable behaviour.

But beyond policy, the SCSU must find a way to improve its own quality and legitimacy as an institution. From Atwal’s rise as a reformist candidate, to his controversial disqualification, and finally to his disgraced fall, it is clear that there is much work to be done when it comes to electoral processes and decorum.

One positive spillover is that the election was subject to intense media coverage by The Underground and The Varsity. The importance of the press for ensuring student awareness and engagement in campus politics should not be taken lightly. This sort of precedent should inspire students to better exercise their rights to vote or run for office and effect change in the future. Student participation is essential to democracy on campus.

This year’s SCSU elections have unfortunately been more dramatic than democratic. But the dissatisfying experience gives students all the more reason to care about what their politicians are doing. Hopefully, students come to understand the power of their voice, and that the SCSU is ultimately what they, the students, make of it.

Michael Phoon is a second-year Journalism student at UTSC. He is The Varsity’s UTSC Affairs Columnist.

Scarborough student union election results in split executive

Shine Bright UTSC’s Chemi Lhamo wins presidency

Scarborough student union election results in split executive

After two weeks of campaigning, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) election results have been released, and next year’s executive will be split between the two major slates.

Current SCSU Vice-President Equity Chemi Lhamo of Shine Bright UTSC will be the next president, winning 837 votes to defeat independent John John. SCSYou’s presidential candidate Anup Atwal was disqualified from the race at midnight before the voting period began on February 5. There were 124 spoiled ballots in the presidential race.

SCSYou’s Carly Sahagian was elected Vice-President Academics & University Affairs over Shine Bright UTSC candidate Raymond Dang, who currently sits on the student union’s board as Director of Political Science. The count was 837–594, with 82 spoiled ballots.

SCSYou candidate Chaman Bukhari, co-president of the Pakistani Students’ Association, will be the next Vice-President External. He won against Shine Bright UTSC’s Kalkidan Alemayehu. The count was 790–602, with 61 spoiled ballots.

Sarah Mohamed of Shine Bright UTSC won the election for Vice-President Campus Life over independent Shehtabbanu Shaikh. Rival slate SCSYou did not put up a candidate for the position. The count was 950–407, with 111 spoiled ballots.

For Vice-President Operations and Vice-President Equity, there was a difference of less than five per cent between each candidate.

According to the SCSU Elections Procedure Code, this means an automatic recount will take place.

The Vice-President Operations race was between SCSYou candidate Rayyan Alibux and Shine Bright UTSC candidate Kevin Turingan. The Vice-President Equity race was between SCSYou candidate Tebat Kadhem and Shine Bright UTSC candidate Leon Tsai.

The Academics & University Affairs race had the highest voter turnout at 1,513 votes. According to SCSU’s website, its membership numbers at around 14,000 students, meaning that, at most, the voter turnout was a little more than 10 per cent.

Out of the 16 seats available on the Board of Directors, Shine Bright UTSC won seven, SCSYou won four, an independent candidate won one, and the remaining four had less than a five per cent difference and will be sent to a recount.

 

Scarborough Campus Students’ Union election results yet to be released

Voting period ended over 24 hours ago

Scarborough Campus Students’ Union election results yet to be released

More than 24 hours after the voting period ended for the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) 2019 elections, the results have still not been released and there is no word on when they will become available.

The voting period ended on February 7 at 8:00 pm after it was extended due to a campus closure.

According to SCSU Executive Director Francis Pineda, the delay is because “the [Elections and Referenda Committee is] still currently discussing the results.”

In recent years, the results have been released within 24 hours of the voting period ending. The SCSU conducts its elections through paper ballots, meaning that they must be physically counted.

Chief Returning Officer Philip Scibor has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Varsity. The Varsity has also reached out to presidential candidates Chemi Lhamo and John John for comment.

SCSYou presidential candidate Anup Atwal disqualified from SCSU executive elections

Atwal handed demerit points for “misrepresentation of facts,” “malicious” comments

SCSYou presidential candidate Anup Atwal disqualified from SCSU executive elections

SCSYou presidential candidate Anup Atwal has been officially disqualified from the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) executive elections on February 5 for accumulating too many demerit points. Atwal’s campaign was suspended on the first day of voting and his appeal has been turned down by members of the union’s board of directors.  

According to the Elections Appeals Committee, Atwal has been disqualified for three separate violations of the Election Procedures Code of the Scarborough Students’ Campus Union (SCSU) on two different occasions.

Atwal first received 25 points on January 25 for a “Gross Misrepresentation of Facts” after posting “Unapproved Material” on social media. According to the notice, the social media post “contained an unreported incident which contained broad accusations.” After the candidate appealed, five demerit points were removed as the post was not targeted at any one person.

On February 1, Atwal received a total of 25 demerit points for “Malicious or Intentional Violation of this Code” when he made another unapproved social media post and a “direct and misleading” comment toward another candidate during The Underground’s executive candidates debate.

Although 20 demerit points issued in the second instance were withdrawn after an appeals process, the committee decided to uphold the 25 demerit points as Atwal allegedly uploaded more unapproved and misleading material on social media.

According to the Election Procedures Code, an executive candidate with more than 35 demerit points is automatically disqualified. Since Atwal had accumulated 45 demerits, he was disqualified as of February 5.

Following his disqualification, Atwal released a statement accusing the SCSU of “outright attacking” students’ rights to freedom of speech. 

“I have been removed for making a factual remark at a debate that SCSU’s current Director for Political Science [Raymond Dang], who is now running for VP Academics, has actively sought to silence student journalists with his motion,” Atwal wrote.

Dang moved a motion at the union’s board of directors meeting in December 2018 that would allow the SCSU to move toward controlling student media accreditation and access to meetings.

“If truth is considered a ‘malicious attack,’ then send me to jail, for the history of this month gives me a moral basis to challenge the irrational, to resist the oppressive, and dismantle the house of corruption one fact at a time,” Atwal’s statement reads.

UTSC students in favour of Atwal have started an online petition calling on the SCSU to let Atwal continue running in the election. As of press time, the petition had 150 supporters.

The Varsity has reached out to Raymond Dang and the Chief Returning Officer for comment.