RSU hires 2010 election watch dog

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By Jesilou Tongio

After helping ensure that El Salvador’s elections were free and fair, Pablo Vivanco will work to do the same at Ryerson.

Vivanco was hired as this year’s chief returning officer (CRO) for the upcoming Ryerson Students’ Union election.

Last year, Vivanco was an international election observer for the presidential elections in El Salvador. He has also been a scrutineer in every level of Canadian elections.

Now the Chilean-born Torontonian brings his services to the RSU elections as an impartial third party who will organize and administer the election proceedings, including disciplinary action. Nominations for all positions end Jan. 22 at noon. Voting runs from Feb. 8 – 10.

Vivanco said though elections ran smoothly last year, he is still aware of how heated they can get.

“That can be eliminated as far as process is concerned if everyone has a clear idea of the boundaries to operate within,” Vivanco said.

The 2008-09 elections were marked with accusations of partisan scrutineers and unfair treatment by that year’s CRO.

He plans to make the boundaries clear by providing the candidates with an election manual, which could include some audit recommendations presented by Deloitte last year to help the RSU function better.

Business management student Osman Hamid saw the CRO selection process when he was on the RSU executive committee last year. His concern is the CRO’s affiliation with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), a group closely tied to the RSU.

“His neutrality will be questioned and the bias will be there, by appearance at least,” Hamid said.

Vivanco served as an executive on the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), but said it’s not a concern since he only knows a few people at Ryerson.

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