No action to reform broken student election process

Devan C. Tasa, Contributor  Ω

The TRU senate isn’t looking at reforming its election rules for student representatives to the senate and board of governors to prevent a repeat of the problems faced in the last election.

The election was held online from Dec. 8 to Dec. 22, 2011, at the same time as exams and holidays. The issue was caused by a delay after a problem was discovered with the voters lists in combination with rigid timing requirements in the election rules.

Only 2.2 per cent of 13,689 eligible voters cast a ballot. Among those elected to the board and senate was Adrian Miller, who, in the past has had a difficult relationship with the university and is currently involved in a lawsuit with the school.

An email from the university secretariat, the office that deals with the senate’s policies and procedures, confirmed that the issue of changing the election rules has not come before senate.

The university secretariat hadn’t returned The Omega’s requests for an interview by press time.

Fiona Chan, the chair of the board of governors, says that she was unaware of the circumstances of the election. She says that the board will not ask for any changes to the rules.

“I’m sure that administration will look at it, but this is not under the direction of the board,” Chan said. “That’s not our function.”

Student senator Dylan Robinson says the student senators have concerns about the voter turnout at the election.

“Obviously we weren’t pleased with how it went,” Robinson said. “It was really ridiculously hard to get people involved in the election as it was during a super busy time.”

For his part, Robinson says he will continue to lobby the registrar’s office, which was responsible for conducting the election, to make changes. As for making a motion at a senate meeting that calls for reforms, that’s something that Robinson says he has to investigate further.

Jordan Harris, TRUSU’s VP external, says the student union also has concerns.

“The election [turnout] numbers were low,” Harris said. “We want the best political representation on campus and we do want to see the numbers increase.”

TRUSU has offered to run the elections for the university at the same time they conduct their own elections, Harris says. He added that the offer has been extended for “the past couple of years.”

“If TRU wants our assistance for the election we’d be more than happy to do it,” said Harris. “We want to do what we can to help to ensure more political representation and higher turnouts.”

According to Harris, the university has not responded to the offer. However, Robinson says he likes the idea a lot.

“Everyone can expect when the elections will be,” Robinson said. “I think it would raise voter turnout because one of the strengths of the student union elections is they’re physical. It’s on campus, it’s present, people are reminded about it, and there are people campaigning.”

The next election, for the second student position on the board, will be held online from Mar. 20 to Apr. 2.