The last day of CSU election campaigning turned out to be the dirtiest, as posters appeared overnight on Sunday which singled out certain Action slate members with defamatory comments.
What had been a largely calm election campaign turned sour yesterday after two disrespectful posters surfaced at a few locations on the downtown campus. The first, depicting Action candidates associated with the John Molson School of Business, including executive candidates Tanya Ng and Leslie Reifer, reads “Action Candidates stand by the corrupt Board of Governors,” and “Do you want to be represented by corporate whores?”
The second, depicting Action candidates who were involved in the Arts and Science Federation of Associations this year, including executive candidates Teresa Seminara and Natasha Launi, reads “This year’s ASFA was only about throwing parties,” and “It’s your money, do you want them to run the CSU like a fraternity?”
“This morning it was really a shock to all of us,” Seminara said yesterday. “I really didn’t think it was serious until I came to school and they were postered everywhere.”
Seminara also said that a few of the Action slate members were really demoralized upon finding out about the attacks ads, and as a result the executive had to spend much of the morning on their last day of campaigning improving the morale of their candidates.
“We had to give a boost to our councillors because they were sad after what happened,” she said. “That took time away from our campaigning. Instead of going out and doing one-on-ones and visiting classrooms, we had to help our councillors to have faith in themselves and to have faith in the team again.”
In addition to the time spent motivating, Action president Khalil Haddad and Seminara spent much of the day with chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen, figuring out how to react to the posters. “He did the best he could to help us out,” Seminara said of Cohen. “He went to go speak to the Dean of Students, filed a complaint there; he went to security and security went to go see him at his office.”
According to Seminara, security has launched an investigation into the manner, and tapes will likely be reviewed to see who posted the material on the boards.
“I really, really hope that we can get some answers as soon as possible,” she said. “Even if one student saw this, that’s one student who was misled and that’s unfair. Some people say it was up for just a few hours but it doesn’t matter.”
Until the footage is reviewed Seminara was not willing to say who she thought was behind the posters, though she did point out “we’re only two teams.”
While most of the posters were taken down early Monday morning by candidates from both slates, the news of their existence and photos spread quickly online where supporters from both sides argued and exchanged accusations over who was responsible. Some Action members and supporters were quick to imply on Facebook that Your Concordia may have been behind the posters, but the latter’s candidates were quick to state that this was definitely not the case.
“Your Concordia was absolutely not involved in any way whatsoever,” said presidential candidate Lex Gill, who added that she was offended at the accusations made by some of her opposition. “We did not create the posters, we did not print them, we did not put them up, we did not know they existed.”
Gill said when she found out about the posters yesterday morning she tried to phone Haddad and explain that her slate had nothing to do with them, though she said he didn’t answer his phone. She also explained that her candidates were told to take down all of those posters, which she said represented “totally disgusting, unacceptable behaviour during an election or any time.”
In particular, Gill addressed the JMSB poster saying she was extremely upset about the use ofÂ the term ‘corporate whores.’ “First of all that’s completely inappropriate and sexist language, and second of all this stuff is defamatory and libellous and should really be taken seriously,” she stated.
Fellow Your Concordia executive candidate Chad Walcott, a current member of ASFA’s executive, also took offense to the posters which called out the association for being solely focused on partying this year.
“I thought they were disgusting to be completely honest,” he said. “Yes ASFA had parties, but we’ve also done so much more. We had the academic series, we had Green Week, we organized a trip to New York […] we had all kinds of things. It’s a shame they’re really just focusing on the partying and saying that ASFA is just run as a frat.”
As a current ASFA executive member herself, Seminara also said the poster criticizing that organization really affected her as well.
“I’m the VP academic of ASFA and this year all I did was plan academic events. For people that know me I’m not a party animal. […] It saddened me because for me it was very much discrediting the hard work I put into ASFA the entire year,” she said, noting the successes of the academic series and prep test she organized for arts and science students.
As for who was behind the posters, Gill said she wouldn’t speculate but added that she was sure that none of their supporters or candidates did it because, “if anyone assumed that we did it, [the posters] make us look way worse than the people in those photos because it’s petty and it’s shameful and it’s malicious.” She also noted that some sort of dirty campaigning has emerged on the last day during past CSU elections as an act of desperation, not of a team that feels they have a strong chance of winning, which she said Your Concordia does.
Despite the last minute drama, campaigning did continue on Monday, notably with Action holding a rally with almost all of its candidates that filled the mezzanine with a sea of blue.
“We started a positive campaign and we were going to end with a positive campaign,” Seminara said.