Less than a week after the Concordia Student Union general election campaign period started, two candidates running with the A Better Concordia affiliation, presidential candidate Schubert Laforest and VP academic and advocacy candidate Lucia Gallardo, were disqualified.
Laforest and Gallardo were made aware of the decision yesterday evening by CSU chief electoral officer Ismail Holoubi, according to A Better Concordia VP external candidate Simon-Pierre Lauzon.
“Both of these candidates are not taking any classes at Concordia this semester,” said Holoubi. “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.” Attached to the statement are screenshots of Gallardo’s and Schubert’s class schedules.
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 also said that if the candidates chose to appeal the decision, their case would go to the CSU’s judicial board and they would have to present evidence stating they are registered students. The elections, however, will not be cancelled or postponed.
If the appeal 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.”
“I just hope this gets resolved quickly one way or another,” said Gill. “There are still a lot of candidates running and I hope Concordia students make sure they still go out there to vote no matter what.”
Candidates file reinstatement request
Both candidates sent requests just after midnight on Monday to the judicial board asking for their candidacy to be reinstated temporarily 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 the CEO review his decision to not put the candidates’ names on the ballots.
“We were very surprised when we knew about the disqualifications,” said Gallardo. “It doesn’t feel good to be disqualified in the middle of a campaign we worked hard for, especially when you know you are a registered student.”
Gallardo explained that her visa was not the one international students typically have and she believed that this might have been the reason for the misunderstanding.
“We just hope that the situation will be resolved soon,” Gallardo said. “Hopefully, this will only make us stronger as a team and push us forward to winning the elections.”
Reactions from ‘Concordia Could Be’
The opposition affiliation lead by presidential candidate Melanie Hotchkiss, released a statement March 11, affirming their faith in the Judicial Board and respect for Gallardo and Laforest’s decision to appeal.
“We are continuing to campaign against a ‘full affiliation’ until when or if the Judicial Board decides otherwise,” read the statement. “We want students to continue to evaluate both affiliations, and we hope that they will support Concordia Could Be based on our merits.”
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.”
With Files from Marilla Steuter-Martin.