York student union still in disarray
By Laura Katsirdakis
After a year riddled with controversy, one would think the
York Federation of Students would settle down to business after
the Jan. 23 ratification of the new board of directors. Last
week, a small demonstration was held decrying a YFS motion
to extend their term in office.
Elections are normally held in March, said Sandra Pierre,
fourth-year communications studies student and a former YFS
executive. “This [November] election was not a regular
election; candidates knew that their term would be up at the
end of April.”
Elections were held in November, as the March 2003 elections
were postponed due to campaign irregularities. “There
was a violation of a bylaw: the [chief returning officer] must
be hired three weeks before the election process begins and
he was hired three days before,” explained Alan Kan,
YFS VP-external affairs, when asked for an example of the irregularities.
“A protest was held last Tuesday [Feb. 3] with about
20 to 30 students near a main lecture hall,” he said. “They
were demanding an election by March 2004.”
“The demonstrators were made up mainly of candidates
who lost [the November election] and their supporters,” Kan
“We wanted to let students know what is happening [and]
we wanted to get people to sign the petition,” Pierre
said, explaining that a petition demanding a March election
was signed by almost 4,000 people. She noted she participated
in the demonstration but was unaware of who organized it.
Kan explained the new YFS planned to change the bylaws surrounding
elections and made this plan clear in their election platform. “It
is [not] feasible to have an election in March,” he said,
explaining the changes cannot be implemented in time for a
The YFS bylaw changes include a one- year cap on executives’ terms,
Kan said. “The old executive was in office for 22 months.”
“We have other by-law amendments raised in council — why
do they have to extend their term for up to a year [in order
to complete bylaws pertaining to elections]?” Pierre
asked. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
The petition itself raised more questions.
“We had a lot of students coming into [the YFS] office
not knowing what they had signed,” Kan said, explaining
some felt the demonstrators were very pushy causing them to
sign the petition hastily. “The petition itself is flawed;
there is a lot of misleading information in it.”
“The people who organized the protest were not exactly
in a neutral position,” Kan said, noting the YFS may
not take the petition seriously for this reason.
“Term extension is not what people voted them in for;
I don’t see why they can’t hold an election [in
March],” said Paul Yeoman, Western’s University
Students’ Council president. “It is not the best
course of action, but they are within their rights,” he
said, adding council must be involved in these kinds of changes.
“This isn’t something that is normal,” Yeoman
said when asked to comment on the entire situation.