Management of the recent Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) election has resulted in allegations of unfair treatment of candidates.
Two current SUS executives, President Dara Djafarian and VP Academic Heather Johnson, acted as Chief Returning Officers (CROs) after the resignation of the appointed CRO, Andaleeb Shariff. Shariff resigned from her position in order to run for VP External. The CRO is responsible for running and administering elections.
According to Djafarian, graduating members of SUS are allowed to act as CROs.
“Technically there’s only supposed to be one [CRO] but I decided to have two, I decided to appoint Heather as co-CRO,” said Djafarian. “I felt it was a good idea to have another party so that all the decisions didn’t come from me.”
Concerns stemmed from the fact that candidates included two of Djafarian and Johnson’s fellow SUS executives, Akshay Rajaram and Maria Zamfir. Rajaram, outgoing VP External, won the presidential race. Zamfir, the current VP Communications, was reelected to her position.
One candidate, who did not wish to be identified by name, said that while “technically, every single rule was followed,” some participants felt that rules governing the elections were interpreted differently for various candidates.
“[The CROs] tried to be impartial,” said the candidate. But, when dealing with subtle interpretations of the rules, “you’re going to be more lenient with your friends than with other people.”
None of the winning candidates received sanctions, though nearly every other candidate did.
The candidate that spoke to The Daily did not file a complaint because they felt that there was not enough hard evidence to support a case. In the future, however, “there’s no way that people on SUS should be running [elections],” the candidate said.
Ingrid Tam, a candidate for VP Communications, agreed with these sentiments.
“I hope that by coming forth, changes can be made so that any individual who has the initiative and courage to run for a position can do so,” Tam said. “I am currently meeting with members of the SUS general council to suggest amendments to electoral bylaws, in hopes of moving in a positive direction.”
The issue was presented at General Council on March 31. Council amended some aspects of the SUS Constitution, and plans to issue an open letter explaining the situation in the near future.