BOD amends election procedures
The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union held its final board of directors meeting of the semester Dec. 3. Over more than four hours, the board discussed major changes to the student life levy, referendum questions that students will decide on in February’s election, and amended election policies due to online voting.
Changes to the student life levy were approved in a ten-year agreement that will see a portion of the fee collected go toward a $5 million expansion to the fitness centre of the Athletic Complex expanding it in size from 11,000 to 19,000 square feet. The administration of the fee has been changed so that 100 per cent of the funds are donated to the university for distribution by a committee composed of representatives from WLUSU and university administration based on submitted proposals.
The board discussed referendum questions for this year’s election, including a distinct $1 fee per half credit (capped at 4 courses) to go toward the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). The WUSC fee would provide funding for refugee students to attend Laurier.
The report of the election policy review committee comprised the final portion of the meeting. The limits placed on campaign spending were increased slightly, from $125 to $150 for those running for director positions and from $500 to $700 for presidential candidates.
Campaigning on election day will be limited to ‘passive’ campaigning, where a candidate may be able to wear a promotional t-shirt, but not actively solicit votes. “By removing the solicitation of votes we’re going to increase our ability to simply have a fair and free election and not give an advantage to anybody who may be campaigning in a particular spot during election day,” board chair Kyle Hocking said. Since every computer is now a polling station, the decision was a “no-brainer” in order to prevent undue influence over voters, according to Hocking.
The report’s proposed social media policy drew fire from directors over the suggestion that candidates would need to create campaign-specific Facebook and Twitter pages and that “following” someone on Twitter would be considered an endorsement of that candidate. Directors Greg Evans and Ted Brown spoke against the policy and Brown successfully motioned to have several components removed including the definition of “following” a candidate as an endorsement.
Evans explained his position on the policy. “My main concern was that WLUSU not mandate the personal social media accounts of candidates,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s WLUSU’s place to be mandating what is posted on peoples’ Facebook pages and profiles and what’s posted on personal Twitter accounts. That was the nature of what was being proposed by the committee and that’s why I fought to strike it.”
Hocking explained that previous elections necessitated the creation of some policies surrounding social media usage. “Last year social media was a huge issue,” he said. “There were a lot of demerits handed out for behaviour on social media and the issue was that there was no policy governing social media at all.”
“The board rejected some of the stuff but it’s still a victory. We still have rules now governing social media. It’s going to improve the upcoming election in terms of that.”
With files from Linda Givetash