Last week’s TRUSU General Election resulted in the highest voter turnout since 2011 and a student government split almost evenly between two of the three slates, the Student Advocacy Coalition (SAC) and TRYou.
With 93 more votes over incumbent Melissa Gordon, SAC’s Brian Chiduuro became the next president of the Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union late Friday night. Chiduuro said he waited hours in anticipation of a call from friend and fellow SAC candidate, Yash Thakker.
“On Friday night, Yash waited outside the CAC. He was running as well and waiting for results. He was the first one to call me that night and tell me the great news,” Chiduuro said.
Members of the union who volunteered to count ballots as well as two scrutineers, one from TRYou and one from SAC, stayed inside the TRUSU boardroom until almost 10 p.m. after voting closed earlier that day at 4 p.m.
One scrutineer, Milap Dadlani, volunteered to watch over the ballot counting process on behalf of SAC. Dadlani described the process as being very arduous and time-consuming, especially considering the number of ballots. Despite this, Dadlani also recognized the importance of scrutineering in the election process.
“Mistakes can be and are made, whether it is intentional or not, it does happen,” Dadlani said. “It is a good thing that there were people there from the multiple teams, too. It just means that there is complete transparency in the process.”
While Dadlani noticed a few mistakes in the ballot counting process and attributed those mistakes to how late they stayed on campus, one thing surprised him in particular.
“Something that actually did surprise me was that for quite a few of the ballots there was no votes for a number of positions,” he said.
A very small number of ballots were spoiled as well due to double-takes or votes for multiple candidates in the same category, yet Dadlani said that was to be expected.
At the end of the night, after close to six hours of counting ballots, the SAC came out of the election winning seven of the 13 positions available, while TRYou took the remaining six.
Though Chiduuro may now be president, he says this win comes from having a strong team behind him.
“I’m really proud of my team. We faced a lot of challenges,” Chiduuro said. “But I encouraged my team to remain positive and get to our goal of getting the largest voter turnout ever.”
Even if Chiduuro had not won the presidency, he said he would have remained proud regardless, due to achieving a voter turnout that doubled the previous year’s.
Chiduuro admits that the win didn’t come easily. For him and the SAC, campaigning was by far the hardest part of the election.
“We just wanted the election to happen, so we could get in power and do all the things that we said we would do,” Chiduuro said.
In the end, he believes that it was SAC’s determination and diversity that ultimately gave them the win.
“The strategies I had from back home and even the strategies of people who were under the SAC led us to our great success,” Chiduuro said. “Our diversity worked out, which is something I’m really expecting this whole year, this diversity of ideas and culture will act in giving change in students’ lives.”
Now that Chiduuro will be leading the union, he wants to focus on increasing engagement between the TRUSU board and students on campus.
“We need to get students to know us. From there, we can work with them,” Chiduuro said. “We want to create a platform where students know us and we know them. When we have that relationship we can then move forward.”