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Melee between Link editor and CEO

by Archives December 4, 2007

As ballots were being collected on Thursday night, a voting-room confrontation turned violent, as Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jason Druker attempted to forcibly expel Link journalist Nick Cabelli. The two were arguing over whether Cabelli was allowed to observe the counting of the ballots.
The two were in a heated dispute for several minutes during which Cabelli refused to leave the room despite repeated orders to do so by Druker,
Druker’s patience wore thin after 15 minutes of arguing with Cabelli.
“I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t get out, I will get you out.”
Druker then surprised onlookers by grabbing Cabelli’s collar and began pushing and shoving him backwards. As the two grappled, they were pulled apart within seconds by election workers and those close by.
The dispute was over the Standing Regulations which state that only candidates, electoral officers and election workers can be in the room during ballot-counting. Cabelli had refused to leave until he was shown a copy of the regulations brought from the Concordia Student Union (CSU) office.
Druker later said that his actions were justified, saying that he was provoked. “I acted in self-defense. It looked like he was squaring up and was going to hit me.”
“He was being crazy. He was being disrespectful to everybody,” Druker added, but later conceded that it was “probably inappropriate” to grab Cabelli.
When Cabelli returned later in the night, he did so alongside two police officers, prompting witnesses to give their account. When asked why he called the police, Cabelli said it was “because Jason Druker assaulted me.”
Though the police chose to drop the case against Druker, Cabelli believes that Druker was in the wrong: “I was asking questions as a journalist, and I was manhandled by a student politician . . . I don’t think that is legitimate at all.”
According to the security official handling the case, a detailed report has been submitted to Peter Cote of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities.
Cabelli believes that he was misled by Druker into believing he had been invited to observe the ballot-counting.
“I felt that there was a lack of professional respect [on Druker’s part]…The contradiction came so quickly, I didn’t know what to believe.”
“If you knew I had to go, why would you waste two hours of my time?” said Cabelli asked rhetorically.
Druker said his invitation was for reporters from The Link to join election workers for a meal and to be able to speak to candidates before the counting of the ballots.
“I can’t invite somebody [as an observer for the ballot counting] if it states in the by-laws that I can’t,” he said.
Although Cote, the authority on the code of conduct on campus, declined to comment on detail about the case, he explained that violations of the code – which include the assault alleged by Cabelli – could result in a sanction of the offending student(s). Sanctions range widely and are chosen by a student tribunal.

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