The Arts and Science Federation of Associations voted April 14 to remain without slates and affiliations during elections, despite the chief electoral officer saying that they would likely increase the number of candidates.
Among his 21 recommendations to modify ASFA’s current electoral system, CEO Nick Cuillerier described the return of the slates and affiliations as a ”positive change for ASFA.”
”The numbers speak for themselves,” he said. ”Last year, we had twenty-seven candidates and this year we were reduced to twelve. However, I still want to create a comfortable space for independent candidates. Therefore, those who run for independent councillor positions would not be allowed to identify themselves with a party or affiliation.”
To be clear, a slate is a bloc of candidates that is voted in as a team. While an affiliation is also a group of people who identify with the same promises and ideals, voters are allowed to pick and choose the best candidates among the affiliations that are running in the elections.
Originally, Cuillerier had hoped to include both slates and affiliations in his proposed change, but outgoing VP external and sustainability Chad Walcott motioned to have the change only include the word ”affiliation.”
”I ran in the ASFA elections with an affiliation, and there is definitely strength in numbers and a real sense of teamwork,” he said.
Outgoing VP communications Natasha Launi, who has run in past elections with a slate, an affiliation, as well as solo, echoed Walcott’s sentiment.
”The affiliation is really good because it allows students to pick and choose the best candidates from each affiliation which in the end makes an amazing team when you go into office,” she said.
However, Cuillerier’s major electoral reform was voted down when VP internal Nicole Devlin had the motions tabled, citing her own personal experience running in elections.
”I actually won two previous elections by myself, so it is doable,” she said. ”The only reason I ran with an affiliation was so that I could have someone to make a poster for me.”
Devlin described previous electoral campaigns with affiliations as ”toxic.” Although Cuillerier’s recommendations were first analyzed by one of Devlin’s internal committees, she indicated at council that she never promised to support them.
Schubert Laforest, who will soon succeed Devlin as the new VP internal, also spoke of his own personal experience, stating that running as an independent is much easier.
”I could really focus on my campaign and what I wanted to bring to the table,” he said. ”I feel that independent candidates are people who really fought for this and who didn’t hide behind a team.”
One of Cuillerier’s other main proposals that was rejected would have seen the CEO given access to the elections section of ASFA’s website. It was voted down when councillors expressed concern over trusting a new CEO each year with some of the more sensitive information on the website. Instead, it was decided that the CEO would be given access to a webmaster ASFA hopes to hire to manage the website.
Proposals that were passed included having a ”No” option added to ballots that already include the words ”Yes” and ”Abstain.” Cuillerier pointed out the usefulness of these ballots especially in uncontested races, where the lone candidate could still lose if they receive more No votes than Yes votes. Council also approved the recommendation that member association executives running for an ASFA executive position still be allowed to retain their duties while running, but be prohibited from using their MA ressources to help their campaign.
”When an MA exec, such as the VP finance, runs and is forced to take a leave of absence, this can really cripple an MA,” Cuillerier pointed out.
Following the vote, Cuillerier, who will not be returning as CEO next year, said he was more or less satisfied with council’s decision, despite the fact that many of his recommendations were thrown out.
”I’m optimistic about most of them,” he said. ”I was disappointed that the affiliation motion was tabled because I felt it would have been the strongest thing for ASFA, but I respect council’s decision.”
The beginning of the council meeting was dominated by ASFA discussing how to incorporate the Math and Statistics Students’ Association into its structure. MASSA recently voted to become a corporation in the hopes of one day getting its own fee levy. After much debate at previous council meetings and discussion at ASFA’s policy review committee, it was proposed on April 14 that MASSA be designated an ”affiliated association,” instead of a member association. This would essentially allow for MASSA to retain its own bank account for the sole purpose of depositing funds from its fee levy, while still being allowed access to ASFA’s special projects fund as well as request a member association budget. Some councillors were wary of this idea, stating that if MASSA adopts its own fee levy, it would be taking away money from other MAs by also dipping into the SPF and MA budget funds. However, MASSA co-president Bruno Joyal pointed out that MASSA would have the right to do this because MASSA still pays fees to ASFA like all other member associations. ASFA VP finance Alexa Newman was particularly against the idea of an ”affiliated association,” stating that the question of including member associations with independent fee levies should be voted on in a referendum. The ”affiliated association” idea was ultimately thrown out by council. After the vote, Joyal stated MASSA will once again present its case to the new ASFA council in the fall.