Khan conquers and U-Pass passes

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By Alison Roach
Photo by Mark Burnham
Video by Julian Giordano

Last Thursday night, SFSS election nominees and a few friends gathered at the Highland Pub to count (and drink) down the hours to midnight, when the results of the SFSS 2013 elections and referendum was released.

The polls, which opened on March 12, closed at 11:59 p.m. that night, and the entire assembly of candidates rowdily made its way down to one of the MBC conference rooms to listen to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) read the results of the voting. All the results are unofficial still, pending ratification.

Chief electoral officer Avery Kwong read out the results one by one, interrupted by occasional cheers, gasps, and applause, starting with the U-Pass referendum. The referendum determined whether the U-Pass program would continue for the next three years for SFU undergraduate students. The referendum passed by a predictably large margin, with 4,895 yes votes, and only 179 no votes. With 5,109 student votes counted, the voter turnout was approximately 23 per cent according to a rough estimate by the IEC.

Kwong went on to read the results of each individual race to the excited crowd. Interesting results included the yes or no vote for single education representative candidate Gloria Mellesmoen, who was voted into the position with 19 yes votes and eight no votes, and Alia Ali winning the university relations officer position by a narrow margin of 29 votes, with 939 against Brock Balfour’s 910.

The race for member at-large was also highly contested, with six relatively unknown candidates vying for the two open spots. In the end, candidates Clay J. Gray and Muhammad Ali came out on top, with 898 and 755 votes respectively.

However, the most dramatic race of the year turned out to be for external relations officer (ERO), with Stephanie Boulding, Chardaye Bueckert, Kayode Fatoba, Tracy Luong, and Brian Misera fighting for the position. The ERO debates at the all-candidate debates held by the IEC leading up to the election proved to be the most heated, with candidates openly questioning their opponents’ knowledge and suitability for the position.

Candidate Kayode Fatoba also found himself in hot water with the IEC after it was discovered that he had violated the rules in the campaign handbook regarding permissible locations for campaign materials, and for defaming the IEC. The problem arose with a banner that proved to be higher than eight feet, a rule-violating height. Fatoba was immediately disqualified for this, and proceeded to send out a candidate-wide email regarding the IEC’s decision.

After a first trial for these violations, Fatoba’s disqualification was retracted, provided that he agree to take down all campaign materials. However, after this hearing, Fatoba was caught campaigning again by several candidates, and was subsequently given an official notice of disqualification by the IEC.

Fatoba did not respond to a request for comment after the election results came out, but did say in an email to The Peak earlier in the week: “I do not understand why in my case I was told to take down all of my posters and campaign material before a hearing could be made.

“While I went along and took my campaign material down and such, I believe that it is wrong to pass judgement on a person and then schedule the meeting of telling them why afterwards.”

The official notice stated, “The IEC has determined that Kayode has failed to comply with the directions enforced by the IEC. Based upon information divulged by the candidate himself during the hearing, Kayode admitted to shouting out in public hallways on the SFU Burnaby Campus to ‘Vote for Kayode for ERO,’ the IEC has determined that Kayode has failed to comply with the directions enforced by the IEC.”

Despite this last-minute disqualification, Fatoba received 657 votes, second only to winner
Charday Bueckert
, who had 780 votes.

“I am so stoked,” said Bueckert, the current president of the Society of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS). “I really didn’t think I was going to win, so I’m very excited . . . I’m just really excited for next year.”

When asked about her foremost plans in the position, she mentioned pushing current voter registration initiatives to encourage students to vote in the upcoming provincial election, and investigating the mandatory access fees for online learning materials, citing that the University of Windsor recently refunded students these fees because this setup violated the tuition framework in the province. “Just saving students money, that’s the most important thing,” she said.

The big result of the night was for the presidential race, with frontrunners Humza Khan and Sarah Veness running, as well as unknown Nickolas Haley. Haley received 352 votes, Veness 901, and Khan won by a wide margin with 1549 votes. Upon this announcement, cheers and chants of “Humza! Humza!” erupted from the crowd.

The Peak waded among scads of well wishers to get a comment from the happy winner, who said, “I feel overwhelmed. It’s an honour and I look forward to serving the student society for the next year.”

He continued to say of his opponent, “Sarah, well she’s one of my bestest friend on the board, I love her to death. We kept it clean, and she’s been a worthy adversary. I still love her, and I’m sure she still loves me.” Veness is the current SFSS Communication, Art and Technology faculty representative.

Kwong said afterwards, “I think it went really well, really smoothly this year. All the candidates played really well. They were very fair and they tried their best to win the election fairly and democratically. I think it was a great result.”

The room quickly emptied with shouts of “Drinks on you, Humza!”

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