USC Candidates (photo 4)

Frank Ye (left) and Jared Forman, the members of Team ForYe, Jan. 15, 2019.

Update (5:01 p.m., Jan. 13): Team ForYe's appeal has been granted by the Appeals Board. There will be an oral hearing for the appeal.

Team ForYe was fined after the EGC found two volunteers pre-campaigning, but did not disclose what was likely a leak submitted as evidence against the slate.

The Elections and Governance Committee found two ForYe volunteers in violation of section 11.7 of bylaw 2 on Tuesday, after they "liked" Gazette article about the candidates five days before the allowed campaigning period.

The committee received a complaint that pointed to eight Facebook accounts that liked the article and that are, or were, members of ForYe's secret Facebook group; the complainant said they attached proof of their group memberships.

Presidents of Science and Social Science, Frank Ye and Jared Forman, were fined $100 in their first of a potential three-strike maximum before disqualification. It is the first campaign violation under the University Students' Council's new minor-major rules which replaced the demerit point system.

Both candidates and Rachel Park, ForYe's campaign manager, attended a committee hearing Monday to argue their case. The complaint the EGC received states “these students are deemed volunteers as they are all members (or have been members) of the official volunteer Facebook group (proof attached).”

As the volunteer group is secret, only members can view its contents, including a list of its members. Seemingly, the proof the complainant describes could have only originated from another member account.

Though the evidence brought against them presumably originated from ForYe’s private Facebook group, ForYe were not shown the evidence in the hearing. Chief returning officer Michelle Wang confirmed that in the hearing they only showed exhibits one and two of the decision — which are only lists of accounts which liked the post, not whether they are group members.

She could not comment on whether the EGC has a listing of the group’s members; they verified whether the accounts belonged to volunteers by asking ForYe to provide their own copy of a volunteer list.

"Team ForYe is definitely disappointed in the result of the hearing," said Park. "We're finding the process difficult to navigate and quite opaque."

Section 5.2 of the EGC’s violations procedure also states the committee must provide the accused slate with “a copy of the findings of the investigation” a minimum of six hours before the hearing. This pre-hearing notice, a copy of which was provided to the Gazette, does not include any of the evidence which was shown in the hearing nor any list of Facebook group members. It only said that two ForYe volunteers pre-campaigned.

It is unclear if the evidence included in the complaint is within the scope of what is required for the notice.

According to Wang, the committee’s decision rests on the volunteers still being on Team ForYe at the time of the hearing — indicating, according to the committee, that any attempts to dissociate from them were not genuine.

Park said she did not know who the volunteers were until the hearing, as the names were not included in the pre-hearing notice.

ForYe has entered the appeal process on the sanction, which contests both the committee's decision and its punishment.

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Martin is the Senior News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at martin.allen@westerngazette.ca, or @mtrallen on Twitter.

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