Student governors election invalid

The results of the March student elections to the UVic Board of Governors (BoG) have been ruled void by the university Senate Committee on Agenda and Governance. A new voting period to elect student representatives to the BoG will be open via webvote from 9 a.m. April 8 until 4:30 p.m. April 10. The senate committee ruling follows complaints that candidates violated the Rules to Govern Elections to the Board of Governors and the Senate, the “Poster and Banners and Campaign Periods and Dates – Elections for Student Representatives to the Board of Governors and the Senate” and the “Guidelines for Electronic Campaigning.”

David Foster, who was the campaign manager for Ignite UVic BoG candidates Sam Hagen and Taylor Verrall, initiated and pursued complaints that campaigning for Edge UVic BoG candidates Emily Rogers and Lucia Orser had gone on during the voting period for the positions, which is against the rules for BoG elections. Foster had requested in his complaints that Rogers and Orser be disqualified.

In an email to the Martlet, Verrall said, “Sam Hagen and I both made the submissions on the complaint in question. However as of this moment, David is no longer affiliated with the campaign and will not be assisting Sam nor I in the re-vote campaign to come.”

Campaigning during the voting period is not against the rules for the UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors elections, in which both Ignite UVic and Edge UVic slates also had candidates at the same time. Evidence for the complaints included Edge UVic leaflets distributed during the voting period which had Edge UVic BoG candidates’ names printed in them and Facebook posts campaigning for Rogers and Orser. Though Rogers and Orser may not have personally campaigned during the voting period, Orser “liked” a post that was in violation of the rules.

The senate committee’s ruling report says Rogers and Orser “had a responsibility to be aware of the campaign materials created by them or on their behalf, and should have taken steps to have their names removed from the leaflets,” and that they “should have taken steps to have the posts removed from Facebook.” These violations could have resulted in the candidates’ disqualification, but the report calls them “minor” and the committee (which includes UVic President David Turpin) opted instead to re-conduct the election in case the illegal campaigning influenced voting the first time.

Foster does not take issue with the committee’s decision to annul the March election and hold a new one, but said, “I am very disturbed by their decision to hold a partial election rather than a second proper election. A campaign period of only one week at the beginning of exams, without sufficient notice to students, is not conducive of a fair and democratic process.” Foster has resigned from his third term as a student representative on the UVic Senate because he feels that allowing only nominees from the March election to run is a violation of students’ rights to run for these positions under the University Act of B.C. “Since I believe this ‘election’ to be illegitimate and legally invalid, I will not be participating in it in any way and will not be voting in it,” said Foster in an email. “I suggest, rather than lending legitimacy by voting in the ‘election,’ students instead write to President David Turpin and demand that it be cancelled. The University seems to think that one invalid election deserves another.”

Hagen, Verrall, Rogers, Orser and independent Law student Bruce Warnsby are all candidates in the April 8–10 student BoG election, for which there are two open positions. Candidates may resume campaigning until voting begins. Their election platforms may be viewed following links on the university secretary’s BoG nominees page. Student representatives on the BoG have a say in the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of UVic and may sit on BoG committees.

The senate committee’s ruling is not subject to appeal, and it states any further violations in the second round will result in candidate disqualification. The university did not offer comment beyond the released senate committee’s report.

UPDATE: Lucia Orser and Emily Rogers have been elected to the Board of Governors. 

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