February 4, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 69  

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NEWS

U of T refuses to recognize two student referenda

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Two referenda were held at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus on Jan. 20 and 21, asking students if they would consent to be represented by the Scarborough Campus Student Union rather than the campus-wide student groups. One of the two referenda was not ratified by the referendum convener, and as a result, the university’s administration will not recognize the results of either election.

Full-time students, who are currently represented by the Students’ Administrative Council, voted 63 per cent in favour of transferring power to the SCSU. Part-time students, who are represented by the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, voted 82 per cent against joining SCSU.

“There’s already been two and a half years of work on this,” explained Dan Bandurka, president of the SCSU, referring to the attempt to officially move student representation from SAC to SCSU. Sixteen days before the referendum, U of T administration demanded a separate referendum be held addressing part-time students, he said.

The campaign to solicit votes from part-time students was therefore quite short, Bandurka noted.

“I felt APUS was illegally campaigning on campus,” said Adam Webson, referendum convener, explaining why he did not ratify the results of the part-time students’ referendum.

“[APUS] felt this was a threat to their organization; they didn’t recognize it and felt they were outside of the campaign rules,” Bandurka said, explaining that APUS campaign tactics included direct mail, telephoning part-time students and setting up a booth adjacent to the voting area on the referendum day.

“The whole process was illegal,” said Chris Ramsaroop, president of APUS, noting plans to hold a referendum were agreed upon by SAC and SCSU without consulting APUS. “We were not involved in the process — then out of the blue a referendum was called.”
Ramsaroop explained that APUS’s goal was to “educate our members and let them know that the process was wrong.”

Jim Delaney, assistant director of student affairs at U of T, confirmed the two referendums would not be recognized by the university. “SCSU includes full time and part-time students — it would be improper [to reorganize student representation] without having part-time student input.”

When asked why the university informed SCSU of the necessity of a referendum for part-time students so soon before the full-time student referendum was planned, Delaney explained that the governing council of the university had to be consulted.

“The governing council recognizes who is the formal representative of students [according to] the University of Toronto Act of 1947,” Delaney said, when asked why the university intervened in the referendum and why their approval of the results was necessary.

“We are very disappointed in the university,” Bandurka said.

“The university administration never looks out for the interest of students,” Ramsaroop said. SAC was unavailable for comment.
“We will be meeting with the university to talk about this,” Bandurka said, adding he did not know what would happen next.

 

 

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