After an intense election, Concordia students chose Experience to lead next year’s CSU. The win was proclaimed early Friday morning at Reggie’s. Results show Experience won 3725 votes, versus 3188 for Conscious.
“It’s been an incredible rush,” a sleep-deprived Khaleed Juma said while thanking supporters on the Java U terrace, Friday afternoon.
“I spent the morning on the phone just thanking everybody.my friends, my family, my opposition.” The mood at Reggie’s was electric, said the Experience president. “They were going through the list and I heard Conscious, with 3100 something votes. And my hands just went up in the air.and next thing I knew there were pitchers of beer being poured on my head. I was hoisted up on [people’s] shoulders and they were screaming and shouting. It was wonderful. like nothing I’ve ever been a part of before.”
The election was not as close as most had anticipated. Last year Conscious was behind the Evolution party by only 86 votes, but this year, the slate fell short by over 500 votes. Justice won 425 votes, while Focus took 400 and Conscience of Interest, 109.
While new incentives brought out by the CSU this year may have affected the turnout, many students said they voted because they felt a lot was at stake such as setting a precedent for future Concordia students and giving their consent or dissent to fee levies.
“I think the CSU represents every student in Concordia- we pay money for that and we should always be concerned about who is there, ” said Tareq Bamahmoud.
Other simply voted because it was the ‘hip thing to do.’
“I was looking at two names on the (ballot) and I had no idea what these people do or who they were. I don’t know why I voted. It’s like, when people pass around the joint, you can’t say no.” Daniel Poulain, 19, athletic therapy.
Thomas Wieckowski, a biology student, said he thought students had been brainwashed to vote.
“Everything was like ‘vote! vote,!’ every time you walked by. It was impossible not to vote!”
CEO Danniella Brazel affirmed that they pushed hard to encourage students to vote but stressed that the prize incentives were all donated, “so it didn’t come out of students money. I also feel that this year students felt an urgency to vote, it was in their faces. The Alumni did great promotions for this elections [such as the TV ads and radio coverage] and the prizes weren’t bad either.”
Regardless of their motivation, 7887 checked the ballots thus causing a phenomenal, record-breaking turnout.
The John Molson School of Business saw a surprising jump in voter turnout this year, almost eight times as many students voted as last year. Vicki Braide, who won a seat as business representative on council, attributed the increase to the candidates’ and Commerce and Administration Student Association (CASA)’s hard work.
“We’re proud that we got people out to vote.almost 1500 [students voted]!” said Braide.
Juma said he was in awe that Concordia came out in such high numbers.
“For over 25 per cent of the school to come out and say ‘we want one thing over the other’ it’s huge. It’s really really huge for this university because, like five years ago, 800 students voted.”
The turnout made history, and the campaign will also be remembered as one of Concordia’s most controversial. With remarkably low student attendance at the debates, slates fought their campaign in the streets. They campaigned side by side, using extraordinary means to garner attention. Wearing T-shirts and embroidered jackets, they gave out hundreds of pamphlets, clementines, pens, cookies, condoms and promises.
ICUPTV ran a joke campaign hoping to promote its TV network CUTV. Justice and FOCUS ran with genuine intentions of providing an alternative to two camps that had traditionally polarized support on campus.
In the days before the vote, Conscious went public with allegations that another slate, named Conscious Concordia, was running with the sole intent of confusing voters and stealing Conscious votes. Ultimately, the copycat slate was removed from the ballot.
Election days were plagued with technical problems, causing several polling stations to close due to a computer network crash.
The slates react
Awaiting the results over drinks at Reggie’s, presidential candidates Arielle Reid, Svetla Turnin and Khaleed Juma agreed they were relieved that the hard-fought campaign was finally over. After the ballots were tallied, the slates spoke frankly about Experience’s win.
Justice’s Andrew Hussler said he was happy about the Experience win. “I think they are a good, well-organized group,” he said, adding that he would not be a part of next year’s campaign. “I don’t really like the whole game. I would rather focus my energy on positive things that I personally enjoy and do well.”
“I was expecting this campaign to be cleaner, platforms that wouldn’t be so materialistic…” said Kinia Adamczyk from FOCUS. “I’m disillusioned with the whole popularity contest,” she continued, “We [tried to] campaign with more quality, took time to write back to people and respond to their individual requests.But on the whole I would have regretted it if I hadn’t run.” And FOCUS president Reid said she would be stepping down from her position. She plans to concentrate on other things, namely her long-neglected studies. As for Juma, he’s eager to see all the groups work together.
“Conscious, FOCUS, Justice, I want anybody and everybody who’s got an idea to come to us. [We will be] taking everything that everyone wants and making it part of a greater good.
Noah Stewart-Ornstein, who was running for Conscious, was at the ballot count on Friday night. When he heard the numbers and realized that Experience had won, he said he felt “a sense of loss.we really had a great idea for what we had for the school, [and] it’s a loss to not see that realized. I was really hoping this would be the year things would change.”
He said also that he and the team had been fairly confident going into the race because this was the strongest team that they’d had in four years, and they “thought we’d really take it.but with a turnout that big, no one knows what’s going to happen.” He couldn’t explain the high number of voters this year, but said he was “happy that students have spoken, and have made a decision.”
The Conscious slate hasn’t formulated a plan yet for the future. Like everyone else, Stewart said they were still in the mode of getting back to normal life.
Juma said they reacted gracefully to the loss. “They were very good about it. And I know it’s tough. Had I been in that position I would have been devastated. I’m just happy that I’m on this end,” he added. “This year I think the two front running teams, actually no, all four teams really pushed themselves, this was the toughest election I’ve ever seen go down at Concordia.”
Conscious has in fact asked for a recount, and if there are grounds, they said they will contest the election. Since there was such a wide margin, it seems doubtful anything could change, according to Stewart.
But if it came down to it, would Juma do it all over again? “Without a doubt.”