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Report of the Ombudsperson on the York Federation of Students Elections Process - 'Towards a More Level Playing Field' - August 2010

Report of the Ombudsperson on the York Federation of Students Elections Process - 'Towards a More Level Playing Field' - August 2010

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Published by: climbrandon on May 25, 2011
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Report of the Ombudspersonon theYork Federation of Students Elections Process
August 30, 2010
Towards a More Level Playing Field
Table of Contents
1. Introduction *
This examination of the election procedures of the York Federation of Students(“YFS”) was undertaken by the York University Ombudsperson at the request ofYork University President, Mamdouh Shoukri. The terms of reference set out byPresident Shoukri for this review are reproduced in full in the next section of thisreport.In brief, those terms of reference indicate that the York Administration hasreceived a significant number of complaints concerning alleged unfairness in theYFS elections procedures this past spring. The terms of reference note thatalthough Presidential Regulation 4 (“Regulation 4”) delegates to studentgovernments and organizations the primary responsibility for the organizationand conduct of elections, the President retains residual responsibility to ensurethe democratic, orderly and responsible conduct of elections. In the exercise ofthis responsibility, the President invited the Ombudsperson to report on whetherthere are changes in the YFS election procedures, processes or practices thatshould be implemented in future elections in order to ensure transparency,fairness and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.YFS elections in recent years have been intensely contested. In the main,student candidates for office affiliate themselves with one of two partiescontesting the election. The typical pattern is that an incumbent group,consisting in the main of members of the past year’s governing party will beseeking, in effect, re-election. Some members of the group will have replacedincumbent members who have graduated or who, for other reasons, are notseeking re-election. The party name for the incumbent group may have changedbut, in substance, last year’s governing party seeks re-election. Those whooppose their re-election form an opposition party and campaign to win theelection and replace the incumbent group as the new governing party.In recent years, the incumbent group has enjoyed success. The oppositionparties and their supporters allege unfairness in the conduct of the elections invarious ways that advantage the incumbent group. Last spring’s election wasparticularly heated. Two slates, an incumbent group and an opposition partycontested the election. The campus was awash with posters and pamphlets,along with the active use of classroom talks and online communications tools.One incident, in particular, stirred further controversy concerning the fairness ofthe YFS election processes.
* Acronyms:“YFS” York Federation of Students“CRO” Chief Returning Officer for the York Federation of Students“EC” Election Committee that oversees the York Federation of Students Elections“EPC” Election Procedure Code
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