Aslam rejected from candidacy

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Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Wilfrid Laurier University was close to having a fourth presidential candidate in this year’s Students’ Union elections. Saad Aslam submitted his nomination package on Monday, but received notice shortly after that the assistant chief returning officer and chief governing officer had concerns about his candidacy.

His nomination package was rejected later that day.

Saad, who is a sixth-year general arts student, explained his application was denied because of a paperwork discrepancy. All candidates were required to submit their intent to run forms by Jan. 13. Aslam did so, but said he wished to run to be a director of the board.

Candidates were then required to submit nomination packages. After some thought, Aslam decided he instead wanted to run for president and made this known to students as he collected signatures. He indicated on his nomination package that he would be running for president.

Matt McLean, chair of the board and CGO, said the discrepancy between the documents violated their election policy.

“The documentation was there, but the discrepancy between the positions means our hands were tied,” said McLean. “There was nothing we could do in allowing him to be a candidate.”

Aslam had a phone meeting with McLean and Kaipa Bharucha, assistant CRO, about the issue with his documentation. In the meeting, Aslam said he asked about the purpose of the intent to run form, which McLean said was needed for planning election events.

“I said, well I really don’t see the big concern with it — it’s not like I went around telling people I was running for the board, collecting signatures,” Aslam said.

“Everything else was submitted on time.”

After his application was denied, Aslam was given the opportunity to appeal.

“We have the appeals committee there for candidates to use and I actually encouraged Saad to take it to the appeals committee so they could discuss it in further detail to make sure that their interpretation was the same as ours,” McLean said.

An appeal hearing was scheduled for Monday evening, which Aslam was unable to attend because he had class. He submitted a written statement.

“I feel like I should have been able to make my case there in-person and they didn’t give me that opportunity,” he said. “I have no idea what happened in the appeals meeting and I don’t think they will tell me that or what their reasons were.”

His appeal was also denied.

“I wouldn’t say I’m mad, I’m more disappointed for the students because I was going to run a very different presidential campaign than, in my memory, has ever been run,” he said.

One aspect of the platform that Aslam was going to run was that, if elected, he would request a 50 per cent pay reduction for his position.

Aslam said he was also disappointed because of the experience he could have brought to the position. He was a director in 2008-09, chair of the board in 2009-10 and vice-president of university affairs in 2010-11.

“That’s the other thing, too, right,” he continued. “If I’m having these issues, think about how it is for students who have no idea how to get involved, how frustrating that is.”

Aslam said the fact that eight board candidates have been acclaimed is a testament to how inaccessible elections are to students.

“From my perspective I really don’t think this is a fair process, so I’m going to the people that were lining up to support me and I’m going to encourage them to not vote.”

McLean said he was also disappointed that Aslam’s application had to be denied.

“It is unfortunate that it worked out that way,” he continued.

“We would have liked to see another candidate, but there wasn’t much we could do in the end.”

As applications for the board of directors have been opened again, Aslam still has the opportunity to run for the board.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Aslam.

“I’m really disappointed to be a part of the Students’ Union today.”

One Comment

  1. I don’t really check in with this stuff very often anymore, but since it’s someone I (still) know personally, this caught my eye. This is remarkably stupid and just incorrect in so many ways. Unless the policies have changed tremendously, the ‘Intent to Run’ form is just for organizational purposes and is not even mentioned in the policy as an official form. Beyond that, it’s the Nomination Package that carries weight and is binding, that is what a large portion of the policy is dedicated to. The Intent to Run form is not even, strictly speaking, needed. No ‘hands are tied’ by any such form that isn’t in the policies. In addition, the Appeals Committee exists for exactly this reason, to consider exceptional circumstances and render decisions. In addition, no committee of the Board can override the Board. If the Board has not yet made a decision, then the CGO is absolutely not tied to anything. This is a great case where the Board can exercise it’s authority over it’s Chair and render a decision that is in the true spirit of REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNANCE and maybe, for the first time in a while, prove it is actually useful in the eyes of students. Controversy is always good for elections, but it’s even better when the outcome is fair. That isn’t the case here, and clearly something this Board has forgotten. This article makes me sad for the Union.

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