There was drinking. There was dancing. There was a marriage proposal. And, in the end, there were election results.
With 2,260 votes in favour of Evolution Not Revolution, students at Concordia have resoundingly broken with the recent history of the union, pushing the left wing to the way side for a party promising to put “students first, activism second.”
Since the campaigns began, the administration at Concordia has refused to comment on what they hoped the results of the election would be. All they would say was that the students’ voices will be heard. And they were.
The message delivered at the polls was made even stronger when considering how many votes the left-wing Clean Slate ended up getting – 1,097, over 1,100 less than the front runner. Evolution’s win is even more impressive when taking into consideration that it won over 58 per cent of the vote in the highest turnout in CSU election history.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Stephan Herman pegged the voter turnout at about 4,800, a huge jump over the previous record of about 3,200 in last year’s byelection. Only a little under 3,900 of the nearly 5,000 voters actually cast ballots for the executive though, leaving the question that many who turned out to vote still felt they weren’t being represented by any of the slates running. Preliminary reports said the number of spoiled executive ballots could be as high as 800.
When the results came in just before 6 a.m. Friday morning – with some candidates having assembled at Reggie’s as early as 10 p.m. the night before – candidates on both sides were low on comments. President elect Nathalie Pomerleau had little to say about the victory, saying only that things would change at Concordia.
VP Student Life-elect John Michael Toews was more emphatic. “Welcome to new times at Concordia!” he enthused.
In an interview on Sunday though, Toews went into more detail about the upcoming year and the challenges ahead for his slate. Although he said they are incredibly excited to have won – particularly with such a huge majority and on a platform of reduced campus activism – he said there are still concerns of convincing their critics that they can do the job.
“It will take a while for people to realize that we don’t want to cut off the voice [of the students],” he said. Evolution had mainly faced criticisms over their plan to reduce campus activism, leading some to fear – particularly students who have been involved in politics at Concordia over the past two years – that the result will be a lame duck CSU kow-towing to the administration.
Toews said that although his slate has preached better relations with the administration, they will not back down on student issues.
“We want to have a fresh start with the administration,” he said. “If it turns out the past CSU was right [when they said the administration refuses to work with students] we’ll see what happens.”
Clean Slate executives were just as quiet as president-elect Pomerleau on Friday, declining to comment on the results except for a brief statement from presidential candidate Youri Cormier that he would not be challenging the outcome.
Although he said there is ample room for contestations – for everything from alleged illegal postering practices to alleged illegal campaigning once elections had begun – he personally would not be acting on it.
“Despite irregularities, with a 1,000 vote majority, the voice of the people has been heard,” he said in a weekend interview.
Even if the elections were annulled, Cormier said he will not be sticking around to run again. The John Molson school of business and School of Community and Public Affairs student will graduate this summer, hoping to begin a Master’s in Europe sometime next winter.
Concordia’s administration had little comment on the outcome, except to say that as per usual they will be meeting with the new slate once it takes office June 1. University communications officer Chris Mota did say they are very pleased with the record-breaking turnout.
Referendum results provoked a mixed response. Concordia Walksafe is no more, with its fee levy being rescinded and the future of Concordia Fran