The two candidates disqualified after one week into the Concordia Student Union general election campaign, A Better Concordia’s presidential candidate Schubert Laforest and VP academic and advocacy candidate Lucia Gallardo, have filed a request to the CSU’s judicial board asking to be temporarily reinstated.
Both candidates sent their requests just after midnight on Monday asking for their candidacies to be temporarily reinstated until the JB finds a resolution to the case. Gallardo and Laforest claim that if the outcome of the appeal rules in their favour, they would have unfairly lost several days of campaigning. They are also asking that chief electoral officer Ismail Holoubi review his decision to not put the candidates’ names on the ballots.
In addition to their disqualifications, the candidates were also “shocked” to find out about a leak of an “outdated and inaccurate version of [their] private student records,” according to an official statement sent by the affiliation.
The statement went on to say that the “origins of the private documents are currently being investigated by multiple parties. It was also indicated that the leak most likely came from a faculty or department member.”
“How can someone get this document if not from us and why was it leaked to the press?,” said Laforest. “These documents do not just contain grades, but also very personal information that should not be made public. We filed a report to security saying that our privacy has been breached by someone within the faculty administration.”
Laforest said the affiliation did not know who was behind the leak, but he said that the dean’s office and the registrar were working to find out what happened and how the information got out.
Both Laforest and Gallardo were made aware of the disqualification decision by the CEO on March 5 just before the beginning of poster night, preventing them from launching their campaign fully. In an email to The Concordian on March 13, Holoubi indicated that after verifying again with the dean of students on March 7, neither Laforest nor Gallordo were registered students.
In a March 10 email, Holoubi had said, “Both of these candidates are not taking any classes at Concordia this semester. Therefore they are not eligible to run.”
The affiliation responded by releasing a statement saying that “double major student Lucia Gallardo and honours student Schubert Laforest are both registered full-time international students at Concordia University.”
In Gallardo’s case, she explained that at the moment the CEO verified her student status, her short-term student visa was in the process of being switched over to a long-term student visa. But Gallardo maintains that she has always been a registered student.
Laforest explained that his student status was related to “financial aid,” but did not want to go into further details because of the pending judicial board hearing.
“The CEO was more concerned by meeting his deadlines than the actual bylaws,” said Laforest.
“That is also why there is an inconsistency between being disqualified and not being eligible and this also why we are arguing the case. What we know is that both [Lucia] and I are full-time registered students.”
Current CSU President Lex Gill pointed out that the decision to disqualify the two candidates was not Holoubi’s alone. She explained that for every general election, the CEO sends the list of candidates to the dean of students, who sends it to the the registrar to make sure the students are registered for classes.
“Both of these candidates are international students and sometimes people get de-registered in the process of change of immigration status, for example,” Gill explained.
Gill explained that if the appeal to the JB does not go through, the elections will still be held and no new candidates will be allowed to run in the A Better Concordia affiliation. If the positions are uncontested, students will have the choice to vote “yes,” “no,” and “abstain” for the presidential position.
The opposition affiliation, Concordia Could Be, lead by presidential candidate Melanie Hotchkiss, released a statement March 11, affirming their faith in the JB and respect for Gallardo and Laforest’s decision to appeal.
“We want students to continue to evaluate both affiliations, and we hope that they will support Concordia Could Be based on our merits,” read the statement.
The affiliation stated that they want the upcoming election “to be about candidates and platforms, not the Chief Electoral Officer.”
“For too long CSU elections have been marred by controversy,” continued the statement. “Faith in our student union has slowly been deteriorating, and we hope for a quick, fair, and honest resolution.”
The chair of the JB, Ceejay Desfosses, said she hoped members of the board would meet early Tuesday morning and that if there is a hearing concerning the case, it will be made open to the public. However, Desfosses said she was unable to judge on the length of time that is needed for the JB to make a decision.
With files from Marilla Steuter-Martin