An urgent letter to the URSU board
author: Victor Oriola| contributor
I write to express my discontent at the activities and conduct of the URSU board with respect to the recently concluded election. Shortly after the results were released, the public was informed of the existence of an investigation into matters that arose from the conduct of one or more actors in the election. The investigation led to the disqualification of the candidate with the most votes and, according to the constitution, the runner-up is to be acclaimed as winner – as mandated by section 3.1.11 of our elections and referendum bylaw.
However, that is not what happened. Instead, the board refused to follow the guidelines in the constitution and proceeded to employ a third party to investigate the results instead. While I understand that there is concern in some circles about the integrity of our elections (seeing as this is the third consecutive election cycle that has produced controversy), but the constitution does not have provisions for third-party review and, as such, third-party involvement is unconstitutional.
The constitution – the governing document of URSU – explicitly states what we can and cannot do in situations like these, and any actions outside the provisions in this document are extrajudicial and invalid. The failure of the board to adhere to the constitution have led to the continued vacancy of the president position, hampering URSU’s ability to function as intended.
It is also troubling that the board appears to be meddling with the results of the election, interfering with the role of the CRO, our designated elections official. This is in violation of Article (VI) subsection 11: “The board shall not directly interfere with any employee in the discharge of his or her duties.”
The CRO is our top elections officer, overseen by a select committee, and this format has allowed for credible elections in the past. Our elections and referendum bylaw specifically grant the CRO powers to supervise the elections and all matters arising from the election. The bylaw also grants the CRO residual and discretionary powers not otherwise contained in the bylaw. The existence of a CRO gives room for the board to be recused of all matters pertaining the administration of an election.
It is improper for the board to impede the functions of the CRO because of the inherent conflict of interests board members may have. Further, a failure to abide by rules and regulations violates section 3.4.1 of the Elections and Referendum bylaw. It is important that the conduct of the board be unimpeachable, but your actions have created the appearance of impropriety.
Not only have you run afoul of the constitution, you have not taken care to keep the student body abreast of developments. This lack of transparency allows people to question whether the actions that have been taken are indeed pursuant to performing your duties in the best interest of the students or simply exercising what could be perceived as a personal vendetta.
Ignoring the directives of the constitution and other relevant bylaw sets a dangerous precedent. Remember, it is the very same constitution that is being flagrantly flouted that allows you to function in your capacity. And if you, the supposed defenders of our constitution, refuse to honour it, then members of the students could equally choose to disregard you, and by extension, the institution. It would not be unreasonable for a person to withhold URSU fees and argue that they are simply following the precedent as set by the board, for if one statute is ignored, what stops the others from suffering the same fate.
I beseech you, for the sake of our union, to desist from your unconstitutional practices. If the constitution is not to your liking, you may amend it next year at the AGM. I hope that you will take this letter under advisement.