The student programs officer (SPO) election is finally over but it has brought forth questions over the USC’s ability to enforce its own rules of voting eligibility.
The University Students’ Council (USC) standing order on the topic outlines that only students are eligible to vote, including anyone who acts as proxy.
The relevant standing order states: “All ordinary members of council are entitled to vote at a meeting by means of a proxy, who cannot be a voting member of council, but must be a student.”
This year, all members of the USC executive team voted in the SPO elections. However, none of the executives except one are students.
USC president Eddy Avila and vice-president Jamie Cleary, although not students, are voting members on council by virtue of their positions.
Isaac Jacobi, secretary-treasurer, is enrolled at Western this year which means he can act as a proxy accordingly to the USC’s rules.
However, communications officer Emily Ross and current SPO Allie Adamo are neither students nor are voting members of council. These two positions acted as proxy voters in the elections.
While according to the USC’s own policy, they shouldn’t have been allowed to act as proxies, this wasn’t the first incidence of non-student executives doing so.
According to Jacobi, this wouldn’t impact the outcome of the election since the corporations act of Ontario, which would supersede standing orders of council, allows for voting members (in this case a councillor) to decide who will act as their proxy, including non-students.
Additionally, the enforcement of council’s standing orders is the responsibility of the speaker.
“Both were allowed to be proxies by the speaker of council, this has not been the first meeting that this has occurred,” Jacobi said. “By allowing them to proxy, and by council not having raised any issues with it in AGM II, or in previous meetings, council has allowed for unanimous consent to not follow its own standing order."
He further added, “I think there is an important discussion and debate that can come from this item being brought up, specifically around the enforcement of standing orders of council, and whether council believes this standing order, and others, are still relevant in their current form.”
Samir Hamadache, speaker of USC council 2016-17, has been contacted for comment and this story will be updated accordingly.