February 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 72  

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York student union still in disarray

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

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 explained.

“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 March election.

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.



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