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Board carries motion to deem disqualified candidates ineligible to run in new election at the March Board of Directors meeting

By Dexter LeRuez and Jake MacAndrew

The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) Board of Directors (BoD) carried a motion on March 30 to deem disqualified candidates from the initial 2023-24 election ineligible to run in the upcoming in-person physical ballot election.

The motion was carried but has not yet passed and is contingent on consultation with the students’ union legal counsel on whether the board has the power to make the decision.

According to Section of the Elections Procedures Code, executive candidates who received more than 35 demerit points and director candidates who received more than 20 demerit points will be disqualified from the election. 

Team Revolt—which consists of vice president operations-elect Mahira Shoaib, vice president education-elect Abeeha Ahmad, vice president student life-elect Kareena Bhatia and vice president equity-elect Trevohn Baker—was disqualified in the 2023-24 General Election.

The slate received 60 demerit points for violating four election bylaws—accessing a member’s voting portal on their behalf, campaigning to students while they are voting, misrepresentation of fact and unauthorized campaigning—on multiple instances, as previously reported by The Eyeopener. 

Several other candidates received over two demerit points but did not exceed the limit, according to various rulings released by the TMSU.

These candidates include presidential candidate Marina Gerges, vice president equity candidate Aya Bakir, vice president operations candidate Nathan Sugunalan, vice president education candidate Sherry Pourghaz*, The Creative School director candidate Gus Cousins and—as part of Team Ignite—The Creative School director candidates Aditi Roy and Yanika Saluja.

The motion was not a part of the initial meeting agenda but was put forward by The Creative School director Dalia Chami. The motion was seconded by course union representative Arezoo Rafkhani.

After the motion was put forward, the meeting was paused for five minutes while management staff assessed if the motion would be possible and “served in the best way,” said director of programming Corey Scott at the meeting.

During the meeting, Kian Rastegar, the chair of the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC), recommended that any Board member who would benefit from the vote, abstain from voting.

“You’re certainly well within your rights to put whatever motion you want on the table,” said Rastegar. “But I would urge anybody who would directly benefit from this to recuse themselves, particularly those running for executive [positions].”

Since the meeting was virtual, voting was conducted via the “raise hand” function on Zoom.

Rafkhani, Chami, Gerges, The Creative School director Vincent Lecompte and a director who remained anonymous voted in favour of the motion.

Ted Rogers School of Management directors Raisa Rahman and Sahil Kumar opposed the motion.

Rastegar, Sugunalan, Cousins, Bakir, Pourghaz, vice president operations Spyros Zarros, vice president student life Ozioma Molokwu, Engineering and Architectural Science directors Success Daka, Hafsa Siraj and Waleed Idrees, at large director Olivia Okore and Faculty of Community Services directors Alisha Kweon and Gabriela L’orfano abstained from the vote.

Gerges, who was not re-elected in the initial election, was the only member of the BoD seeking re-election who voted on the motion.

“Whether I win or not, I cannot stay quiet and let these people take advantage [of the election] so I’m going to be voting,” said Gerges, in the meeting.

Here’s what else you missed at this month’s BoD:

ERC report

The ERC summarized the findings of their special decision on election integrity released earlier that day during the meeting. “We’re just horrified,” said Rastegar on the report’s findings. 

The special decision from the ERC determined the nature and extent of election misconduct during the voting period “has fundamentally compromised the integrity of the vote and therefore the results of the election,” the decision read. 

“After reviewing and witnessing what we saw during this election cycle, I really don’t see another path forward,” said Rastegar.

According to Rastegar, he wants the upcoming election to be safe and monitored, something he said can be achieved through in-person, paper ballot voting.

During this new election cycle, the ERC will continue to train and inform candidates on election bylaws and new procedures for the in-person format.

“[Candidates] will be receiving training on or they will be informed of the new procedures that we have laid out to sort of cover up any holes that we missed the last time around,” said Rastegar. 

“We’re approaching [this election] with a different method,” he said. “There will be more vigilance and a heavier hand the second time around.”

Annual General Meeting

Additionally, the Board carried a motion moved by Gerges to reschedule the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to the week of April 19-24. An exact date has not yet been determined.

The proposition to move the scheduled date was to avoid interfering with the TMSU voting period, according to the meeting’s agenda. The AGM was originally scheduled for April 12, according to the TMSU website.

*A previous version of this article listed this source under a different name but has since been updated to reflect the source’s preferred identification.

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