Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.12

March 17, 2005


CSU election coming up

By Robert Carver

A small change in the Student Union election process will add a positive twist to this year's vote, says Chief Electoral Officer Mark Small.

This year, nominees for the 37 available council, Senate, and Board of Governors seats can declare an affiliation with one of the participating executive slates. This is a departure from past elections, where candidates officially ran as independents.

"It could be kind of interesting this year," said Small, whose mandate is to run the election and ensure that it is done fairly.

When submitting their nomination papers, candidates will be asked if they wish to declare an affiliation that will be noted on the ballot. Small says that one weakness in the old system was that often candidates were elected based solely on name or position on the ballot.

"Now at least they [the students] will have some idea of the candidates' alignment."

Up for grabs are one executive slate, 30 council seats, five Senate seats and two seats on the Board of Governors. There are also nine referendum questions for student consideration.

The executive slate is open to groups fielding one president and between three and eight vice-presidents. The winning slate has full discretion on how to define the vice presidential portfolios. There is a lot at stake.

"It's always a very competitive process," Small said. "They have salaries that are around $19,000, so it's like a full-time job. It's an enormous amount of responsibility."

It's so competitive, he says, that candidates may be tempted to flout the election rules. There are spending limits for each individual and group, including the referendum yes/no committees. There are also limits on how candidates communicate with voters.

One grey area in the past has been the use of club e-mail lists to rally support, which Small has forbidden this year. He has also barred the use of any Concordia logo, faculty or faculty association logo or CSU logo in any campaign material.

Small has the authority to discipline those who step out of line. In the past, CEOs have used cash sanctions, prohibitions on campaigning and even threats of disqualification to maintain order, but Small is keeping his strategy low-key. He says if he defines penalties ahead of time, some might see them as acceptable costs to gain a seat.

Nominations for the elections closed Monday night at 11:59 and one minute later students flooded the Hall Building to mark the official start of the campaign with a massive postering blitz. Campaigning ends March 28, and is followed by three days of polling, March 29 to 31.

Professor Emeritus Henry Habib and representatives from Elections Quebec and Elections Canada will provide third-party monitoring.