The Big Bad Wolf is a Photographer

Early last Wednesday The Link received reports that members of the Action slate were standing next to polling stations in the MB building. The standing regulations of the CSU provide under section 207 that “The Chief Electoral Officer shall […] ensure that […] the secrecy of the vote is maintained” and that “No campaign materials shall be within view of a polling station from the beginning until the end of the polling period.”

As several Action candidates were wearing inside-out blue t-shirts, the colour chosen for their campaign, near the polling stations, the question arises whether this was a violation or not. Action candidates were also seen asking people whom they voted for, then drawing lines on their t-shirt to reflect the vote count, which clearly violates the secrecy of the vote.

The Link immediately sent reporters and photographers to verify that information. It appeared that the information was correct, candidates Leslie Reifer and Tanya Ng were indeed inciting students to vote while wearing their blue t-shirts.

After taking a few pictures I was heading back to The Link’s office when a student ran towards me, snapped a picture a little too close to my face and then quickly ran away. A few seconds later, the exact same thing happened with another student. When asked to disclose his identity, the student fled to the stairs.

Back on the ground floor I saw a group of Action candidates surrounding the CEO, Oliver Cohen. They pointed at me, screaming that I’d been harassing them by taking pictures. Leslie Reifer, Action candidate for VP Clubs and Promotions, ordered us to not publish any pictures of him, either on The Link’s website or in the printed version, arguing we needed his authorization to publish them. Cohen then told me to stay away from the Action team until the end of the election.

There’s an urgent need to clarify some accusations thrown at members of the media. First, as an elected member of The Link, it is my job to report on student politics. That job requires taking pictures of people involved in Concordia student life. To take a maximum of 10 pictures in half an hour hardly fits the definition of harassment when the precaution was taken to be far away from candidates. However, to snap intrusive photos of a press representative can totally be considered harassment.

Cohen’s reaction deserves some clarification as well. As the CEO, his job is to ensure that the election is fair and the rules respected. The last time I checked, The Link was a newspaper and a part of Concordia’s independent media. Cohen’s reaction at best demonstrates at least a total lack of knowledge of this, and at worst demonstrates an intent to keep the press out of the democratic process.

As a side note, someone should inform Leslie Reifer that he was in a public place as an official candidate for the CSU, thus giving journalists the right to take and publish photos of him.

To conclude, I would like to send a message to all people who spent the last few weeks intimidating, threatening or attacking media organizations at Concordia: the press will not deviate from its mandate and will certainly not abase itself before people whose political ambitions have became unreasonable.

Translated from original article: Le grand mechant loup est un photographe (FR), available here