UMGSA revises election policies

Changes to CRO, DRO positions come after ‘tumultuous’ 2019 election

The University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association (UMGSA) council approved two motions at its Oct. 23 meeting making changes to its policy documents after the organization’s previous election, which vice-president finance and administration Cody Ross termed “somewhat tumultuous.”

The first motion revised the organization’s election and referendum committee policy, removing the chief returning officer (CRO) and deputy returning officer (DRO) from the committee.

It also established the committee as ad hoc from a standing committee due to the brief period it sits during the year and to allow the council to review its membership before every election.

The second motion introduces changes to the election and referendum policy and procedure manual, adjusting the selection and responsibilities of both the CRO and DRO and clarifying the timeline of an election. Ross said this motion is the first of two motions addressing the election and referendum policy and procedure manual. That additional motion will be presented at November’s council meeting.

Both motions presented at the Oct. 23 meeting passed unanimously.

Ross said in an interview the motions are designed to specify the responsibilities of the CRO and DRO.

“These changes are really to separate the CRO and DRO from the elections committee so that they operate independently and their roles are more clearly described,” said Ross.

“In the past, our election and referendum committee included the CRO and the DRO within it.

“This configuration made it very difficult to address appeals against the decisions that the CRO and DRO had made.”

The association’s last general election resulted in a tie for the position of vice-president services and support (VPSS) between candidates Eric Gagnon and Okechukwu Efobi. Efobi was initially disqualified following a successful appeal by UMGSA president Carl Neumann concerning CRO Ademola Adesola’s failure to penalize the candidate for an expense overrun of $0.39.

Efobi then publicly accused Neumann of “spying,” calling for his resignation in an email to UMGSA council. Neumann said that he overhead Adesola discussing the overrun, while Adesola maintained he had not spoken publicly about the matter. Adesola was later removed from his position after the elections committee determined he breached UMGSA rules by confronting Neumann outside a meeting.

The elections committee later released reports on the appeal and complaint to the graduate student body, which included an email Adesola had sent.

The elections committee was eventually dissolved and the association issued an email to graduate students publicly apologizing to Neumann, Efobi, Adesola and all parties mentioned in election committee correspondence to the student body and any articles in the Manitoban.

A new elections committee was formed and Efobi won a runoff election for the VPSS position.

Ross said that the changes to policy documents are for the sake of clarity.

“The rationale for making changes to a specific document is so that we have a more clear democratic process for electing executive of the UMGSA.”