The first day of the University Students’ Council elections campaigning has come and gone – but not without a few hiccups.
Due to a lack of interested candidates both the arts and humanities councillor and the health science councillor nomination deadlines were extended to Monday afternoon.
While these postponed deadlines allowed arts and humanities councillor candidates to come forward, the faculty of health science still has two vacant councillor positions.
“We haven’t fulfilled each role within health science, specifically nursing and kinesiology, but it’s not the end of the world to have a by-election in the fall,” said Robbie Cohen, chief returning officer for the USC and chair of the elections committee.
But initial elections controversies weren’t limited to vacant roles, but conflicting ones as well.
Kevin Chao, associate vice-president of public affairs, came out as an active supporter of Team Sophie – appearing in both her campaign video and website.
Though there was some concern around Chao remaining in his paid role as an associate vice-president, or AVP, for the USC, Cohen reassured students that no election rules are being broken.
“The bylaw says a candidate can’t solicit help from either a full-time staff or executive, but [USC] volunteer resources and governance decided that the AVP is not a staff member and not an executive so there’s no conflict there,” Cohen explained.
As for whether or not Chao’s position on council will affect campaigning, the USC executive feel comfortable in allowing him to continue his work as an AVP for the communications portfolio.
“We made a judgement call that the influence he would have over the campaign would come from his personal brand and his personal contributions, as opposed to an institutional level of support,” said Emerson Tithecott, vice-president communications for the USC.
In coming to this decision concerning Chao both Tithecott and Cohen use the example of faculty presidents.
“A faculty president can endorse and support a candidate personally, but not on behalf of the faculty or the council,” Cohen said.
Because this is the first year associate vice-presidents have been a part of council’s overall structure, Tithecott sees this as an opportunity to learn about weak spots in election guidelines.
“Going through this it is important for us to go and reassess the bylaw, making sure our language in all the policies and procedures interprets every member of the organization and classifies them so things like this aren’t unclear to those involved,” he said.