Booze-free campaigns proposed

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By Irene Papakonstantinou

Next year’s RyeSAC executive elections could be a little dry.

RyeSAC’s board of directors narrowly accepted a motion last week to change the election bylaws, making it illegal to buy alcohol as a campaign tool.

During elections, RyeSAC covers campaign costs for up to $300 for each presidential candidate and $200 for each v.p. candidate.

Erin George, RyeSAC’s v.p. education, said alcohol shouldn’t have a place in elections.  “Students money should not be subsidizing alcohol purchases.”

George proposed an amendment that would make buying votes with alcohol illegal, and that candidates may be disqualified if caught.

Her motion replaced an amendment proposed by a bylaws committee limiting the amount of the election budget candidates could spend on alcohol to 50 per cent.

After more than an hour of debate, the board narrowly passed George’s motion.  Nine board members voted in favour, four were opposed, and two abstained (bylaw change need a two-thirds majority to pass).

The changes have to pass RyeSAC’s Nov. 4 semi-annual general meeting (SAGM) which all student can attend.

The bylaw amendment comes after three candidates spent nearly all of their campaign money during last February’s elections on a booze party.

One of the people who voted against George’s motion was RyeSAC’s v..p. development and finance Vladimir Vasilko, who sat on the bylaws committee.

Vasilko ran last February in a slate with two other candidates, who both lost.  The three pooled their campaign money and threw a beer party at The Ram in the Rye before election day.

When asked by The Eyeopener, Vasilko said he did not spend any money on alcohol during his campaign.

But Elliot Salmons, RyeSAC commissioner and chief returning officer for the elections, confirmed that Vasilko spent $190 on alcohol — 95 per cent of his campaign budget.

When he was later asked to comment, Vasilko said he must have been mistaken.

He said he is unsure whether he will vote in favour of the bylaw change at the SAGM.

Salmons also sat on the committee deciding on bylaw reforms, and is opposed to the proposed motion banning alcohol.

“It makes a moral statement, essentially saying that alcohol is wrong,” said Salmons.

It’s hypocritical of RyeSAC to ban booze in campaigning, he said.  “We [RyeSAC] do other things which promote alcohol revenue.”

He said The Ram in the Rye is a “perfect example” of RyeSAC making money by selling alcohol.

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