Unsigned: Responding to Jamalof’s violation of COVID-19 regulations

On Jan. 29, Pegah Jamalof was announced as the 2021-22 Students’ Union president and CEO during a live Zoom event where she appeared to be at an unsanctioned group gathering. In a follow-up statement, Jamalof confirmed that the gathering did not adhere to COVID-19 bylaws. 

Jamalof’s violation of COVID-19 bylaws coupled with her lack of preparedness on camera does not present a strong image for an incoming leader responsible for advocating and representing the student body.

While The Cord endorsed Jamalof during her campaign, The Cord does not support Jamalof’s actions on election night and is curious to see how the rest of the Students’ Union board responds to this representation. 

On election night, The Students’ Union appeared to have difficulty getting a hold of Jamalof, who then admitted she had not prepared a speech. Her opponent, Joey Small gave an unprecedented speech despite his loss which seemed highly professional in contrast to Jamalof. 

Jamalof’s unpreparedness brings into question her confidence in victory and whether she is prepared to accept the tasks ahead, despite her expansive platform. 

In her statement, Jamalof claims she has never held “a position in such a public light;” however, Jamalof has held positions on the Students’ Union Board of Governors and the Senate. Based on these previous experiences, Jamalof should be familiar with university politics and should have considered conducting herself better on election night. 

In her statement, Jamalof said that “it was not the right call” to invite over more friends and that her excitement led to her “lapse of judgment at the moment.” In an interview with The Cord after the fact, Jamalof said she did not anticipate how students might perceive this incident, which brings into question her foresight.

The Cord recognizes Jamalof’s need for social interaction but this behaviour, especially from someone in a position of power, shouldn’t be condoned. Many students who are taking COVID-19 restrictions seriously are feeling isolated; this type of representation from the incoming president could set a precedence that could serve to further that isolation or even encourage others to take restrictions less seriously. 

Jamalof’s actions and her comments afterwards resulted in a massive backlash from the student body in the form of anonymous comments on Reddit and Twitter and a petition to appeal her presidency. While it is no secret that COVID-19 bylaws are being broken, many students who have been diligently adhering to the COVID-19 bylaws are incensed by the fact that Jamalof is not facing repercussions for her actions.

The Students’ Union has yet to publicly outline any consequences, though they have issued a statement regarding the incident and have welcomed Jamalof and her team. University faculty have welcomed Jamalof to the role, but have made no comment towards this incident. 

Laurier students expect answers from the Students’ Union and want to know what actions are being taken against Jamalof and the other people at the gathering. Jamalof is not the sole perpetrator of this action; her friends and campaign team also chose to attend the gathering and, therefore, should be held accountable as well.

Although Jamalof has issued statements to the student body, many students online have argued that her apology does not seem sincere. 

As a representative of the entire Laurier student body, Jamalof needs to do better. While she worked hard on her campaign and earned the votes, her actions on Jan. 29 were not aligned with appropriate leadership. 

Jamalof has been reluctant to further comment on the situation; however, The Cord feels as though more action needs to be taken to address the concerns of the student body on this matter and to show students she is genuinely sorry for her actions. 

As a representative of the student body Jamalof should be setting a positive example for students. These restrictions are in place so that we can go back to a normal campus life and breaking the rules only serves to prolong the lockdown state. If restrictions are taken seriously by all, Laurier students may be able to return to campus sooner.

As Laurier’s official Waterloo campus newspaper, it is The Cord’s responsibility to hold Jamalof and her campaign team accountable for their actions. With that said, we are eager to see how The Students’ Union addresses this in tonight’s board of directors meeting and we hope to see the SU hold Jamalof and her team accountable as well. 

These unsigned editorials are based on informal discussions and then agreed upon by the majority of The Cord’s editorial board, including the Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor. The arguments made may reference any facts that have been made available through interviews, documents or other sources. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of The Cord’s volunteers, staff or WLUSP. 

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