UMGSA runoff elects previously disqualified candidate

New vice-president services and support lists U-Pass, improving UMGSA events as priorities

After issuing an apology and holding a runoff election in May, the U of M graduate students’ association (UMGSA) has announced Okechukwu Efobi has been elected vice-president services and support (VPSS).

Efobi beat out Eric Gagnon who had been named VPSS before the original election’s results were dissolved.

The runoff resulted in Efobi receiving 268 (54 per cent) of the votes to Eric Gagnon’s 225 (46 per cent). Efobi will serve alongside UMGSA president Carl Neumann, vice-president finance and administration Cody Ross, vice-president academic Roxie Koohgoli, HSGSA president Mahder Teffera and senators Julia Minarik and Ehsan Tahmasebian.

On the UMGSA website, Efobi lists his priorities as VPSS as improving the U-Pass transit services to campus, advocating for international student health coverage and improving UMGSA events. Efobi declined to comment when contacted by the Manitoban.

Voting for the VPSS position during the initial election period held in March ended in a tie between Efobi and Eric Gagnon. After mishandling  a number of complaints and appeals, the elections committee was dissolved entirely and the results were not ratified by council. Efobi’s disqualification was not upheld.

A new elections committee was formed and the council passed a motion to hold a runoff election for the VPSS position.

The apology email issued by the UMGSA concerned a number of people and was sent to the entire graduate student body.

A second email announced the runoff election for which voting took place May 15-16.

The results of the election were ratified at the May 22 UMGSA council meeting.

In an email to the Manitoban, Gagnon said he was unsure if he would stay involved with the UMGSA, but said he was happy to have worked with the association.

“I’m really proud of all the work I did for our association this year, and I wouldn’t have any regrets if I decided to move on to other things,” he said.

He referred to “steps” the UMGSA council will be taking, which he believes will “ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

“What I believe this entire election has demonstrated to everyone involved is how important it is for an association to follow its own rules and procedures. Not only does this damage the image and reputation of our association, but it also has some very real human costs,” he said.

“If our rules and procedure were followed, things certainly would not have played out as they did.”