Election campaigning can be a harrowing experience for those involved, as well as for those sitting on the sidelines watching the process unfold. Recalling the weeks prior to the voting period, I can attest to the watchful eye each slate, Your Concordia and Action, kept on each other during the stretch. Moreover, the strictness of the observations was increased during the CSU election period.
Nevertheless, both slates have been disqualified by chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen from the election. In letters communicated to each slate on April 12, the CEO claimed that there were “numerous violations of the Regulations.” Your Concordia was charged with breaching fifteen of the standing regulations in addition to six election directives, including “off-campus” and “campaign expenditures.” Similarly, Action was charged with breaching thirteen of the standing regulations, as well as four election directives, including “Facebook” and “election expenses.”
While Action was only disqualified from this election, Your Concordia was also prohibited from running or holding office for two years. The reason for this extended punishment remains unclear, but could be due to the CEO’s charge that Your Concordia filed a “false return of election expenses.”
It is clear that both slates disagree with the CEO’s decision as they have filed appeals to the judicial board. After having read both notices that disqualify the slates from this year’s election, I can confidently claim that the CEO’s accusations are baseless and not supported by specific case evidence. Both notices are clear in stating which regulations and directives were violated. However, there is no reference to any particular cases in which these violations occurred.
It may be the case that the CEO has specific case evidence of the violations, but if he were reachable, we would ask of him: why were they not included in his notices of disqualification? In contrast, however, it seems to be the case that he does not have any specific evidence, which would make his allegations mere conjectures. Certainly, he must have known that an appeal would be filed by either slate in response to his notices, and that both slates would support their appeal with evidence.
Notwithstanding Oliver Cohen’s lack of evidence, both slates were not given any period of time to prepare a defense against his decision. In their appeals, both slates refer to the principles of natural justice, claiming that they ought to have been given time to offer explanations to their accuser, as well as prepare a defense before the CEO finalized his decision. Both slates were refused this right, and now there is a considerable burden on the CEO to explain why it is that these principles of natural justice were denied. Moreover, there is also a burden of proof on the CEO to present evidence, if any such evidence exists, to the judicial board and the university community, that the assumed violations are based on fact.
Having reviewed the appeals by both slates, it seems that they are able to support their defenses with actual evidence, unlike the unsupported charges of the CEO. The judicial board will meet, according to its regulations, within five days to hear the case presented by the two plaintiffs.
Since the CEO did not abide by these rules of natural justice, the judicial board should, without a doubt, take this into consideration when reviewing the case on the day of the hearing. Finally, they should dismiss the disqualifications, and reinstate Your Concordia as the winner by majority vote of this year’s CSU election.