Reporter: Giorgio Berbatiotis
A student who had gathered wide support in his bid for Student Association president, and was seen as a frontrunner, has been denied permission to run in the elections, because he was 15 minutes late. The decision was made on the first day of campaigning, after Joshua Smickle underwent an appeal process.
“It was my understanding that you had up until 4 pm to collect your signatures, then you go to the room to submit them, and wait there for the meeting at 5,” said Smickle. “I got there at 4:15, they told me the process was closed and I couldn’t contribute.” Smickle feels he was treated too harshly by the committee and questioned the way they handled the appeal.
“I got there, I took ownership of being late, and asked that they allow me to run with a severe penalty,” said Smickle. “They told me they would make a decision in 24 hours, they told us to leave, and about an hour later, they sent out an email to another candidate saying he had until noon to submit stuff if he wanted to stay in the race. I found this to be ridiculous.”
At the time, Smickle believed this meant he too had gotten an extension after appeal. He had left to do some business before returning downtown to go to a class and await the committee’s decision. Instead of going to class, however, he says he got a frantic phone call from his friend telling him to rush back up to the north campus or he’d be refused candidacy.
“This would be unreasonable,” says Smickle. “It takes 20 minutes to get downtown, another 5 minutes to get to class. If you sit down, open your laptop and find out you have 20 minutes to get back, and you are just seeing this now, you’ve been unfairly muscled out of the competition, and that’s just that.”
Amar Bains, an SA board representative on the election committee, disagreed with the notion that Smickle was treated too harshly. “His reasoning was that he misunderstood the deadline,” said Bains. “When it is stated that no late submissions will be accepted, that kind of speaks for itself.”
“To clarify, it was not a disqualification,” said Rebecca Bloom, a student representative on the election committee. “Joshua Smickle did not meet the deadline for handing in his nomination package, therefore, he was technically not a candidate originally.”
“I think the election committee was right in their interpretation of the policy,” said Smickle. “But in how they dealt with it, I think they were too strict.”
“We took leniency into consideration,” said Bloom. “However he did miss the deadline which was clearly stated in the nomination package.”
However, bylaws relating to the election have not been strictly adhered to in other situations. A general bylaw requiring the SA to give 20 days notice of elections in the student paper was not adhered to. This bylaw was seemingly simply ignored, and its violation brushed off as inconsequential by chief returning officer Bradley Chin.
“In my experience here, I have heard of students with more serious issues getting a pass,” said Smickle. “So I tell the truth, I am transparent, I take responsibility and ask for a severe penalty, and am denied. But people on the other side, are given a pass, seemingly because of their affiliation.”