When Beisan Zubi was hired in October as Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), her job was to ensure slates campaigning for office followed the rules, postered appropriately and stayed within budget. Zubi had been working on a five-page report of her suggestions for improving the electoral process but that work was cut short when she was summarily dismissed from her post at the Feb. 14 CSU council meeting. During the closed session, which Zubi asked to be public, the CEO was given five minutes to state her case.
“I had no idea that it was on the agenda,” Zubi said after the meeting, adding that she thought the issue was her postering for the Experience slate in last year’s elections. But the postering didn’t even come up.
“It”was a series of strikes against her that council felt were sufficient for dismissal. Among them, said Councillor Mohamed Shuriye, was that she hadn’t followed “due process” in hiring two Deputy Electoral Officers (DEO). Namely, Shuriye said, she lied to a candidate and said she had already hired someone for one of the positions.
“She said, ‘I was told to hire people I trusted so I hired my friends’,” Shuriye said.
Zubi said she had turned down the applicant on the grounds that he was DEO last year. She hired a friend from Ottawa, reasoning, that he would be objective because he wasn’t a Concordia student and hadn’t been involved in Concordia’s politics. She denies having lied about filling one of the positions.
“I took Mo [Shuriye]’s word that I’d said [I filled the position], since he seemed to have the correspondence in front of him [at the meeting], but when I looked back at the email I sent to [the applicant], I hadn’t said that at all. I’m getting pinned for something that didn’t happen,” said Zubi.
But Zubi thinks the real reason she got turfed is that she failed to mentioned she put up posters for Experience during last year’s election period when she was interviewed for the job.
She said she received a forwarded an email on Feb. 6 written by independent councillor Eyal Tapiero stating that a photo, published by The Concordian, of Zubi putting up election posters was “more than a big problem.”
“I don’t deny that I was at postering night, but I thought it was more of a social event than political,” she said.
“Maybe [the photo] kind of made councillors realize that there was a CEO out there doing all this ridiculous stuff,” said Juma.”The photo was like the catalyst.”
A motion for her dismissal was tabled a week later by “multiple councillors.” Listing as reasons for her dismissal: “a lack of willingness to consult with others in the student community before making decisions, a lack of honesty in her dealings with Council, and a lack of experience in her duties.”
The lack of consultation, according to CSU President Khaleed Juma, had to do with Zubi’s proposal of implementing electronic voting.
Zubi had approached Concordia’s Information and Technology Services to inquire about the possibility of students registering votes through their MyConcordia portal because she thought it would be more efficient and increase voter turnout. Zubi said that IITS later deemed the idea unfeasible.
According to Shuriye, the CSU only learned of her plans on electronic voting after Zubi went public with her ideas in The Link without prior consultation with Council.
In the end Zubi said she was frustrated more with not seeing through the reforms she intended to implement than with being fired.
“Whoever they get isn’t going to try to rock the boat,” Zubi said, “and everything will continue on as it has before.”