Op-ed by the Editor-in-Chief
By: Eilia Yazdanian, Editor In Chief
Disclaimer: Eilia Yazdanian used to be an SCSU Executive, VP of Operations, who resigned due to health issues. The VP of Operations role in his year was a non-elected position; this article contains no insider-information pertaining to elections processes. Rather it stems from his personal feelings as a student during this year’s elections.
The SCSU elections are a joke and an affront to democracy. Whether or not you disagree with Anup Atwal’s disqualification is another matter. However, as students we need to challenge the SCSU and demand electoral reform.
Our current elections procedure is a rushed messy affair that A) provides little to no room for students to help shape the platform of candidates and B) provides no visibility to the election's general process.
The dismally short campaign period is problematic. And the SCSU all candidates forum is atrocious - smack middle of the day, next to zero marketing, next to no student engagement, and no hard pressing questions. The union needs to provide proper scrutiny of candidates' platforms or, more importantly, provide students a space to do so.
The entire behind the scenes process of the election is what bothers me. The students should know who the CRO is. All students. The CRO should be available in multiple town halls to address student concerns. In fact, their hiring should not be done by the SCSU and instead an independent body.
The SCSU should have little to no involvement with the elections. In fact the DSL should be facilitating these elections. The elections review committee and appeals committee, who decide the fate of candidates via demerit points, should have their membership made public and their meetings should be available to all students.
Folks tell me this information is available. But okay, where? Why do I have to ask three different people, to only be told to send an email to receive information on who sits on these committees; only to never have my email answered?
Nicole, I'm talking about you here. Your refusal to answer emails and engage with the student press is undemocratic. We, as UTSC students, deserve better. Rather than supporting a board motion to create a media accreditation committee, we should all vote to make you more accountable and force you to interact with student journalists.
We deserve to know who sits on the ERC and appeals committee and the minutes of both meetings should be available and accessible.
The lack of visibility makes it easy for bias to occur throughout the process. Once again regardless of any candidate's conduct all candidates deserve a public forum in which to defend themselves and express their actions.
What gives the members of the ERC the right to decide for us, the student body as a whole? What evidence exists that they're able to keep their personal bias out of their decision making process?
We've created a system where candidates are encouraged to rat on another and report another in order to disqualify them. The demerit point system needs to be abolished or at least amended.
Students are capable of deciding who they want their leaders to be. And they're capable of holding them accountable if those leaders step out of line.
There are valid cases where the CRO or an executive body should be given the power to disqualify a candidate. But that body should include no current SCSU executives, board members or staff.
What frustrates me the most is how are these not common sense elements? The fact is that they are. And the SCSU's refusal to reform these elements suggests that they benefit from them.
I guess nothing will change till we have an SCSU president who isn't basically appointed. I can't expect Nicole to change a system, that is the sole reason she's President. I mean other than her "great" platform and her wonderful accountability.