Five people got disqualified, that’s what happened.
Two candidates for indigenous representative, a social inclusion representative, an international student representative and a presidential candidate all got disqualified in the three days leading up to the St. Thomas University Students’ Union election.
The first four were all disqualified because they were under the age of 19. All of them had been campaigning before they were told they couldn’t continue.
Anna Amro-Smith is an 18-year-old first year majoring in Criminology. She was running for the indigenous representative position.
She handed her signed nomination form three days before it was due. Then she got an email confirming her campaign could start.
She made $30 worth of posters and stayed up late to cut posters and tape them.
“I pushed my boundaries as a person out of my comfort zone to try and get this position.”
She was running because she was passionate about giving indigenous students a voice.
“There hasn’t really been someone who’s made that role. It’s a quite new role in the STUSU so I wanted to set a standard as well as coming to university, I haven’t really been culturally involved with my family and my background. I wasn’t really given that opportunity when I was growing up,” she said.
“Being indigenous rep was a huge part of me finding myself and I wanted to be a voice for Indigenous people.”
She said she cried when she was told she couldn’t run on Tuesday night.
“It’s heartbreaking. If you were going to check my GPA you might as well have checked my age as well,” she said.
Fernanda Damiani, president of STUSU, said the law governing the age of people sitting on STUSU board of directors is a provincial one. She said because STUSU is an incorporated “company” it falls under the Companies Act of New Brunswick which states everyone sitting on a board of directors should be 19 years of age or older.
“It’s in our bylaws and our constitution,” she said. “It’s also on the nomination forms.”
The last line of the nomination form signed by students running in the election reads: “I also agree to give the Chief Returning Officer, Erickson Miranda, permission to verify with the Registrar/Assistant Registrar that my GPA was at least 2.3 in the previous academic year and that I am the legal age of 19 (if running for a voting SRC position)”
She said the chief returning officer received a warning for not checking the age of the candidates.
“We should have checked,” Damiani said.
Damiani said the only person who was 18 who was allowed to continue running is an off-campus rep candidate who would have turned 19 by May 1 when her term would begin should she get elected.
Damiani also said candidates can be reimbursed for the money they spent on campaigning.
She said someone can appeal the CRO’s decision to disqualify them but only three business days after the election results are announced.
“The chair of the SRC, Jeremy [Keats], is going to make a committee to oversee that, and then it’s going to be one person from the SRC, one employee and one random person that [Keats] chooses. It’s up to him to make sure that the decisions are made impartially. And then that committee is going to look over the appeal and see if there are grounds.”
The other representative candidates disqualified were Princess Clair, Maddy Hogan and Olinda Diaz del Valle.
Amro-Smith said she’s been so let down, she doesn’t feel like she should run again.
“But I’m very passionate about it and it’s something that I want to do, because to me it’s not a position on the STUSU. To me, it’s being a voice for a great amount of people that haven’t had a voice through history,” she said.
The presidential candidate disqualified was Eduardo Luiz Móntañez. He said he is working on an appeal and therefore did not want to comment.
Sam Titus, vice-president education, said usually the CRO is the one who deals with the election but Titus was named Miranda’s supervisor.
“[Tuesday] night after the debate we received a final complaint that it was unfair that [Móntañez] wasn’t disqualified yet because according to the bylaws each candidate can receive one written warning and the next written warning constitutes a disqualification,” Titus said.
The first one had to do with him campaigning on false information, including a claim that off-campus attendance was increasing.
“We passed him along this information, told him he had an hour to remove all posts that contained this information and to not post new posts that contained it until we can verify whether it was true or not … In the end it took him four hours to take down the posts … While most of the complaints were found to be true, there were a handful of them that were demonstrated to be false,” he said.
“But the real concern is that the CRO’s decision is final in these matters, and Eduardo blatantly disregarded what we asked him to do,” Titus said.
The second one is that [Móntañez] had 34 posters up in Sir James Dunn Hall when candidates are only allowed 25.
Titus said STUSU doesn’t have a person in charge of counting posters. He said after they were notified, he and Damiani counted the posters themselves to confirm.
Brandon LeBlanc, STU student and off-campus representative, also took it upon himself to count the posters.
LeBlanc was running for an off-campus representative position and he was elected. He said he considers himself president-elect Philippe Ferland’s campaign manager.
“I’m really dead set on getting Philippe to win, that’s my goal, but I can’t deny that I highly don’t want Eduardo to win and for both those reasons I went and counted those posters.”
After reading this story, Brandon reached out to The Aquinian to clarify his words.
“The above comment I made was a slip of the tongue, my intentions in making complaints against Eduardo Móntañez were not in the manner that the above comment suggests,” he said in an email. “I would like to clarify my intentions by stating that there was absolutely no correlation between assisting Philippe Ferland with his campaign and the complaints I made against Eduardo. As someone who believes in fairness and equality, I made a complaint regarding Eduardo’s false statements as part of his campaign, and when I noticed a rather large number of posters around James Dunn Hall, I counted Eduardo’s posters and found him to have 34 posters hanging, which I made an additional complaint about.”
Brandon said he was not plotting against Móntañez.
“I did make additional complaints against multiple other candidates who were also in violation of the bylaws regarding campaigning.”
Móntañez will be able to plead his case for an appeal three business days after election day.
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