New GSA Team Elected, Disqualified Senate Candidate Speaks Out
A new executive team, with one familiar face, will lead the Graduate Student Association next year. On Thursday, the Chief Returning Officer, who runs the electoral process, released the results of the recent election, which saw a turnout of 1076 voters.
Alex Ocheoha, a former contributor for The Link and engineering student, won the Presidency along with the rest of his slate, excluding one position. Jawad Khan Mohammad will return as VP External after beating Chaitanya Vaishnav Moturi from the aforementioned team.
The new GSA President says he will have no issues working with Mohammad and that he approached him before the election to clarify this.
Ocheoha is also the new representative on Concordia’s Board of Governors and one of three Senators as well. He says that it’s advantageous to have all three positions because he can easily communicate from both sides.
As President, Ocheoha adds that he wants to get increased student involvement with the GSA by holding more “successful” and organized general assemblies. The past three GSA general assemblies have either failed to reach quorum or eventually lost it.
All of the names and numbers from the election can be found here.
After breaching campaigning rules, one candidate received a deduction of 50 votes, while another lost eligibility for two positions, one of which was uncontested, according to a statement released online by Chief Returning Officer, Jonathan Summers.
Mohammed Salauddin Shah, running for VP Internal, had votes deducted for “violating the Election Regulations as well as a resolution of the Council of Directors during the voting period,” wrote Summers, who is also a former staff writer at The Link and education grad student. The lost votes ultimately did not affect the result.
Running for the Individualized and Interdisciplinary Studies seat on the Council of Directors and a Senate position, Keroles Riad was disqualified for submitting a letter to The Concordian that “constituted campaigning” and was not pre-approved, according to Summers’ statement.
In that letter, Riad criticizes the conduct of the past few GAs, the former executive team and also last-minute changes to election policy. Before signing off, he writes, “Vote cross-faculty rep,” which is the slate he ran on for Senate.
In the GSA Election Regulations, under section 10, it states, “campaigning by and for candidates shall be permitted during the campaign period, including the days the polling stations are open for voting.”
Riad is currently appealing the decision and has wrote an 11 page report outlining his grievances with the process. In it, he admits that the regulation which mandates candidates to submit campaign material to the CRO before publishing “slipped” his mind.
He says that the regulation was “enforced loosely and inconsistently” and that Ocheoha, who published his own letter in The Link during the campaign period, also did not get approval. Ocheoha confirmed that he did not seek the CRO’s approval for his letter but says it wasn’t about campaigning.
“It’s obvious that it had nothing to do with getting pre-approval,” Riad told The Link. “He just didn’t like what I said.”
Since the Council of Directors seat was uncontested, he says that Summers “overreacted” in that specific disqualification. He adds that the CRO sent out a congratulatory email to all unopposed candidates, saying their spot was only subject to approval by the Dean of Students.
Riad continues in his report that two members from his “Cross-Faculty Rep” slate were disqualified during the nomination period, for reasons seemingly beyond their control.
According to Riad, this includes Elahe Tavana, who planned to run for VP Mobilization. He says that due to an “bug” with the well-publicized, problematic new Student Information System implemented by the university in January, it did not list her as a student, despite being enrolled.
The CRO declined to comment further until after a decision is made on the appeal.