By Adrian Morrow
Associate News Editor
The Ryerson Students’ Union opened nominations for its upcoming elections last week, while one likely presidential candidate unveiled a set of proposals to overhaul the way elections are run.
Ibrahim (Abe) Snobar, VP Student Life and Events, wants to hire a different chief returning officer (CRO) — the official who supervises the election — as well as ensure that ballot boxes are locked in the Ryerson Security Office on election night, rather than stored at the RSU.
He argues that previous CROs have been lackeys of the Canadian Federation of Students, a national student lobby group.
“I have felt that the elections at Ryerson are unfair in the past. Even in the election I won,” he said, pointing to the elections of 2005, when Rebecca Rose won the presidency in a landslide.
Student newspaper NightViews (now Ryerson Free Press) accused poll clerks of tampering with the elections in a story published in April of that year. The paper quoted two unnamed clerks who accused some of their co-workers of filling out ballots for students who hadn’t voted, and pointed out inconsistent numbers in the results.
The RSU launched an investigation that determined the election was clean. Snobar says there was some wrongdoing in last year’s elections, in which he says the CFS dissuaded him from running for president against Nora Loreto, a CFS executive member.
“I ran on a CFS slate, so I witnessed first-hand what happened,” he said. “I think there’s reasons the RSU [elections] went uncontested.” Loreto opposed Snobar’s proposals, arguing that they are unnecessary and could hold up the vote. “Either this is an attempt by Abe at stalling the election or grandstanding to prove how unbiased he is,” she said. “There is nothing to prove that the election [last year] was biased.”
Chris Drew, RSU VP Finance and Services, backed Loreto but declined to vote on Snobar’s proposals, citing a possible conflict of interest as a likely candidate for the RSU’s presidency.
Loreto and two RSU staffers have already proposed Serife Tekin, a PhD candidate and pro-CFS student politician at York University, as chief returning officer for the election.
“[Tekin] showed us not only that she was accountable, but that she was experienced,” Shaila Kibria, who sat on Tekin’s hiring committee along with Loreto, told the RSU’s board of directors on Monday.
However, the board narrowly sided with Snobar and directed Loreto to nominate a new CRO to be voted on by the board. The CRO will ultimately decide whether to follow Snobar’s other directives — placing nomination forms in various places around the school and locking the ballot boxes in the security office.
The RSU’s executive committee backed Snobar’s proposals but removed a single item that would have required the union to change the text on the nomination forms.
Meanwhile, nominations opened last Friday. Up for grabs are the jobs of President, VP Finance and Services, VP Education, VP Student Life and Events and 24 seats on the board of directors.