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None of the above sweeps Windsor student election; executives scramble for solution

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The Lance (University of Windsor)

Chief Returning Officer Shauhrat Gill, UWSA Vice-President University Affairs Jake Dejong and President Rob Crawford (left to right) at the March 13 student association meeting.
Chief Returning Officer Shauhrat Gill, UWSA Vice-President University Affairs Jake Dejong and President Rob Crawford (left to right) at the March 13 student association meeting.

WINDSOR (CUP) — Outgoing executives for the University of Windsor Student Alliance — representing over 10,000 undergraduate students — are scrambling to make decisions that will determine the fate of the union after the association’s 2014 general elections resulted in a vacancy of all executive, board of directors, board of governors and senate positions.

Just a week before voting began, a group of students concerned about the lack of involvement in the elections — in addition to concerns about the election process itself — began a crowd-sourced, out-of-pocket campaign to encourage students to vote “no” or “none of the above.”

By the time the polls opened the None of the Above group’s Facebook page had accumulated over 1,000 “likes,” which appears to have translated into a vacant incoming executive.

The question has become, “What now?”

Current UWSA President Rob Crawford said there is work to do in the next month to ensure that students are not dramatically affected come fall.

“I’ve met with our general manager and we’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the operations that the UWSA does over the summer can be completed by our full-time staff,” Crawford said.  “In terms of having Welcome Week and doing those events . . . we have our director of student life who can organize all those things.”

Crawford said the full-time staff will have a larger workload but that services such as the health and dental plan will still be offered in the coming academic year.

Holly Ward, chief communications officer for the U of W, has already stated that Welcome Week activities would still be provided by the university should the UWSA be unable to fulfill those duties.

Omar Shahid, outgoing vice-president of finance and operations for the UWSA, said that the association will struggle to get traction financially during the summer without a board of directors.

“My understanding is that we cannot do anything financially because there is no board,” Shahid said. “Let’s say a club wants to ask for club funding . . . they can’t because there is not a board to approve it. The same thing goes for the Homecoming Music Festival or the frosh week.

“We can’t really do anything [now] unless we have an emergency meeting everyday.”

As for the students involved in the None of the Above group, work to reform the UWSA bylaws and elections policies may be on the horizon.

Adam Bednarick, the fourth-year international relations student who founded the group, said that he is expecting more work ahead but that he is proud of what has been accomplished.

“I’m sure there will be quite the appeal process and what-not to get through, so we have to get through all the paperwork first,” Bednarick said. Despite future challenges, he said that making sure students’ voices are heard will be a key component in any future reforms.

Bednarick said the elections results were a surprise.

“We were in shock,” he said.  “We thought we would do well, we thought we would have an impact across campus, we just were shocked at the level of impact that we had.”

Bednarick said his group will be digging into the by-laws looking for “weaknesses, irregularities and any faults that may exist” to recommend changes.

“I think it’s a sign of the times. I think, clearly, students are voicing their dissatisfaction, and I think in the long run it could end up being a good thing for the [U of W] by offering a chance for rebirth,” Crawford said.

Crawford is encouraging students to attend the Annual General Meeting.

“If we hit [quorum], students can actually push forward constitutional amendments at that meeting that would become official,” Crawford said. “That’s the time of the year where drastic changes can happen.”

Photo: Jason Rankin

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