Two formerly disqualified candidates in the Concordia Student Union elections have been officially reinstated by the judicial board and have hit the ground running in the final days of campaigning.
At its March 16 meeting, the CSU’s judicial board ruled that A Better Concordia’s presidential candidate Schubert Laforest and VP academic and advocacy hopeful Lucia Gallardo should be allowed to participate in the elections, two weeks after being disqualified by the chief electoral officer when their student status came into question.
Laforest explained that his team had spent the weekend planning and that their focus was to “make up for lost time.”
He said that through intensive online campaigning, the release of individual candidate videos, and by maintaining a presence on campus, A Better Concordia would regain as much ground as could be expected.
“We need to coordinate as a team,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll be okay.”
Despite the setbacks suffered by his affiliation, “this experience has really brought the team together,” he said. “It’s taught us how we’re going to be operating in crisis situations.”
At the hearing, Gallardo and Laforest presented their case against the CEO Ismail Holoubi’s decision to disqualify them for not being registered students.
At the hearing, the affiliation presented evidence indicating that Gallardo and Laforest, both international students, had experienced procedural trouble with their visas and this was the cause for being temporarily unregistered.
“When you’re an international student, your status is volatile,” said Laforest.
Gallardo, who was in the process of transitioning between a short-term and long-term visa in early March, said that it was “a bureaucratic issue that was out of [her] control.”
Upon being notified by Holoubi on March 7 that they were not eligible to run, the two applied for temporary membership to the CSU, which they were granted by CSU council upon request. Temporary membership allowed them to still run in the election and participate in campaigning events.
The presentation of the cases for both sides at JB became fairly tense as the hearing progressed. At one point, one of the members of the board had to ask Holoubi to be more aware of his tone and “be nicer.”
Following the hearing, Laforest commented that “this has been a very arduous process,” and that he was looking forward to moving on.
“I feel I kind of lost out on the whole experience,” he said. “I had to spend all of my time dealing with this case as opposed to actually campaigning.”
Holoubi declined to comment further following the judicial board’s decision. Concordia Could Be’s presidential candidate Melanie Hotchkiss said that she was “unable to comment at this time seeing that the decision has yet to be rendered in writing.”
Polling for the elections was scheduled to take place March 20 to 22, but with the announcement that the university will be closed on March 22, the last day of polling will most likely be moved to Friday, March 23.