The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) held a by-election last month in which two seats on their board of directors were supposed to be filled and students were asked to vote on a referendum question meant to gauge support for the U-Pass.
Polls were open from Oct. 27-29 and saw a 47.5 per cent increase in voter turnout compared to the general election which took place in March – jumping from 922 voters in the general election to 1,360 in the by-election.
On the referendum question 1,112 voted yes, 243 voted no, and 5 ballots were spoiled.
For the position of business and economics director, Mathew Joseph was elected over co-candidates Kyle Karpish and Jordan Sobey who had run for the position as a team, hoping to be co-directors. A recount was required before Joseph was declared winner because of a narrow margin of victory in the first count – a single vote difference, according to Joseph.
Figures released after the recount showed that Joseph received 625 votes and Karpish and Sobey received 576 votes, with 11 spoiled ballots.
The position of international student director was left unfilled.
An advertorial, written by the UWSA and published in the Uniter’s Oct. 23 issue, profiled all the candidates in the by-election including Chun Hoe Ho, the then sole candidate for international students’ director.
The UWSA’s chief elections commissioner, Michael Walpole, told the Manitoban that the sole candidate in the running for the position dropped out days before the election.
One candidate did run for the position of international students’ director in the general election that took place in March. Beatriz Carazo del Hoyo, a bioanthropology student from Spain, was the only candidate to apply during that election but has resigned since winning the directorship.
Bylaw 4.03 ii. of the UWSA bylaws states, “A vacancy in the non-executive director position occurring on or after September 30 of any year, except that which is the result of an increase in the number of Directorships, may be filled by appointment by the Board of Directors so long as the executive committee is in a position to make recommendations pertaining to the filling of this position. The duration for such an appointment shall be the balance of the unexpired term of the vacating director.”
However, Rorie Mcleod Arnould, president of the UWSA, said that they had not looked at appointing anyone to the directorate before the election because they expected it to be filled during the by-election and an appointment would run for the entire year.
“While I know that we have done so in the past, I don’t sense any movement among board members to fill this seat by appointment. We will continue to work with international students to address the issues that affect their communities through all other available channels.
“All director positions are filled via the electoral process, and so that position will be filled as the new Board of Directors takes over in April.”
Like the number of ballots cast for the U-pass referendum, the number of ballots cast for the business and economics director position ended up being significantly higher than any other directorship won during the UWSA’s general elections – only two of which were contested.
Mcleod Arnould said the referendum played a major role in the increased voter turnout for the by-election.
“Referendum questions that address issues as significant as the U-Pass do raise voter turnout significantly, and it’s likely that the high turnout was driven at least in part by the consequences of the question.”
Mcleod Arnould said that on top of being happy with referendum results he was also looking forward to working with Joseph.
“Mathew is someone I’ve worked with in the past at CKUW [95.5 FM], as hosts of ‘People of Interest.’ His background and personal experience will be invaluable to us as we work to unite students from all areas of study, move forward on government lobbying efforts for equitable and fair tuition rates for international students, and work with universities to ensure appropriate supports for international students studying in Manitoba, which are currently insufficient.”
Joseph shared Mcleod Arnould’s excitement and was looking forward to starting work with the Board of Directors.
He said he would be meeting with representatives of the Business Administration Students’ Association and the Finance and Economics Students’ Association soon, to talk about ideas for the student association.