The Arts Student Body Council (ASBC) elections campaign period has been plagued by hostility and a mid-campaign chief returning officer (CRO) change.
Voting for the election takes place April 5 and 6.
Kasey Magedanz, the current vice-president of ASBC, resigned as CRO, and Trisha Kulathungam, the current president of ASBC, took over her duties.
Magedanz explained that her departure from the role was due to personal conflict.
“I am a fulltime student, and I have five courses. The week I resigned I still had four papers and three exams to write before the end of classes; in addition to my duties as CRO, it just became too much,” said Magedanz.
During her time as CRO, Magedanz said that she received comments about candidate posters being taken down but did not take action.
“I am reluctant to call things vandalism when there is no proof, and since we always want to make decisions with full proof and evidence, we cannot do that,” said Magedanz.
Jennifer Black, one of two presidential candidates in this year’s ASBC election, said that most of her campaign material had been vandalized. She also said she felt she faced hostility when trying to form a slate with Sean Gee, one of the vice-presidential candidates, but was denied the opportunity by the council.
“We eventually saw that [Amanda McMullin] and another person running as vice-president has a common slogan on their posters. [ . . . ] We were denied the opportunity to run as a slate, but they are still allowed slate-like behaviour. That was kind of frustrating,” said Black.
Black felt that the current bylaws are inefficient and contain a lot of grey areas that might be causing the hostility between candidates.
Black hopes to bring the ASBC back to life by renewing its presence.
“I really want to revive the reputation of the ASBC. I want them to be a just council, and I want to make sure they are handling themselves financially well — that they are accountable and transparent,” said Black.
“I also want to clean up their spaces and make it a social atmosphere — and just have a stronger political presence.”
Black’s fellow presidential candidate, Amanda McMullin, said that she too had seven posters ripped down, but is trying to stay positive and enjoy the experience.
“It’s been a really positive experience, putting everything aside. You know lots of people are talking about rifts in between candidates. I guess everyone feels a bit of the tension, but I am just trying to make the best of it,” said McMullin.
Kulathungam said that she did not believe that any of the candidates were responsible for the vandalized campaign material but said that the issue was being looked into.
“I think the competitive nature of the election is healthy because every candidate is working their hardest to inform students,” said Kulathungam.
She said she was also impressed by the way the candidates have handled the negative attentions.
“[ . . . ] For example, [Black] now sports a moustache,” said Kulathungam.
McMullin said that her campaign is focused on keeping the lounge clean, providing accessible locker programs and throwing lively events.
“More of an ASBC presence” is needed, explained McMullin, “so that people come to school, and they just don’t meet someone in class and go home, and don’t continue that friendship.”
Kulathungam, the current CRO, said that while this year’s election “has had its ups and downs,” she said that overall she was happy to see a wider range of participation from both candidates and volunteers.
Kulathungam felt that one of the biggest issues for arts students currently is the appointment of a new dean of Arts.
The current dean is Richard Sigurdson, but the university is in the process of appointing a new dean.
Kulathungam said that in her four years on council, this was her first year seeing a large-scale campaigning effort.
“I think this will have a great impact on this year’s voter turnout, and we will see higher numbers this year compared to past years.”