A host of fresh faces were welcomed to the 2014-15 Student Association boards on March 28 after three days of elections on campus.
Returning SA members sealed only two out of the 13 positions available on the boards.
Out of the 10 board member positions, four were elected and six were uncontested. Unchallenged positions are granted to the single candidate who ran. All three executive member positions were elected, which include the president, vice-president of college affairs and vice-president of university affairs.
Among the newcomers is SA President Ryan LePage, a third-year Criminology and Justice student at UOIT.
LePage ran against three other candidates and won with 43 per cent of the votes.
The unofficial results are on the SA’s website. Votes are not official until April 11 when the current SA board members hold a meeting to approve the results. Approval is based on tidying up campaign material and submitting an accurate campaign expense report.
Even though results are unofficial, that didn’t matter to LePage’s friends and supporters who blew up his phone with congratulatory messages while he was working his shift at the Real Canadian Superstore the day of the count.
“The count is done. You won by a long shot,” LePage said one text-message read from a vote-counter before the SA’s press release was posted.
“I went to bed Thursday night and I was unsure,” LePage said. “I didn’t know I’d win by such a significant margin.”
According to LePage, he got almost 300 votes from the polling station set up at UOIT’s downtown campus where he attends classes, which accounts for approximately one-third of the ballots cast in his favour.
LePage ran his campaign with a slate called Students Unite that had 10 other members and ran under the banner of “Advocacy, Accountability and Autonomy.”
Slates were banned from SA elections for the past few years, barring candidates from running under the same platform and sharing volunteers, but election regulations changed this year to reincorporate the campaign strategy.
Students Unite was the largest slate in this year’s elections that included Ashley Bennett who is the returning vice-president of college affairs.
Bennett is a second-year Advanced Law Clerk student at Durham College. She was appointed to the board at the beginning of last year, and although her position went unchallenged, executive members without opposition still must be elected by a yes or no vote.
In an e-mail, Bennett said she thought running as a slate was effective and the votes reflected that success.
Two members of Students Unite lost, three won and five were granted positions for running unopposed.
“You can’t win every single election,” LePage said of his other slate teammate, Jeremy Baarbe, who would have been a returning SA member but lost by 25 votes to newcomer Sameer Khan for the vice-president of university affairs position.
Khan, a third-year Electrical Engineering student at UOIT ran on another slate called Team Change with four other candidates under the banner of “Transparency, Accountability, Productivity and Change.”
“All the platforms sounded really similar to me,” Khan said. “The reason I joined one is because I felt that I had to compete.”
Baker Baha is another member of Students Unite who would have been returning to the board, but lost in the elections to newcomer Ramez Zarifa who was part of Team Change. Both Baha and Baarbe, along with other previous SA members, will take the newcomers through transitional training in the last week of April, Khan said.
It’s been a challenging year in terms of the relationship between the SA and students of Durham College and UOIT as well as both institutions, but the new crop of members hope to turn that around.
Whether they campaigned on the same slate or not, each member stands for more transparency and accountability.
Khan said his relationship with the other winners is really good.
“I’ve spoken to all of them. We’re looking forward to working together,” he said.