The goings-on in the Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) Board have been a hot topic over the last week of Students’ Union drama and Twitter beef. But other than having a morbid-sounding name, what does the DIE Board really do?
What is the DIE Board?
The Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) Board is the “court” which interprets and enforces the Students’ Union’s bylaws. The board consists of 12 tribunal members, all undergraduate students who are not voting members of Students Council, not voting members of a committee of Council and not employees of the Students’ Union. Included in the 12-person board are one Chief Tribune and two Associate Tribunes, who rotate between chairing DIE Board hearings. In each DIE Board hearing, the chair is accompanied by either two or four tribunes, depending on the nature of the hearing and the availability of the tribunes. The ruling of DIE Board is final.
Throughout Students’ Union elections, candidates often appeal decisions made by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) to the DIE Board. The tribunes then interpret the bylaws enforced by the CRO to determine whether the bylaws were enforced appropriately.
What is the CRO?
The Chief Returning Officer (CRO), is the “sheriff” of Students’ Union elections, referenda and plebiscites. The CRO is responsible for setting the schedule of anything related to the elections, enforcing election rules and fairness, advertising elections, providing universal resources and chairing forums. This year’s CRO is Jessica Nguyen.
Recent DIE Board Rulings in Elections
Lau vs. CRO — March 12, 2014
Last year, CRO Wayne DeFehr fined presidential candidate William Lau for “third-party campaigning” after the Chinese Students and Scholars’ Association endorsed Lau on Renren (a Chinese social media site) on Feb. 26 and March 6, 2014. Lau was fined $403.70 for the third-party campaigning, therefore exceeding his campaign budget by $200.32 and disqualifying him from the race.
Though the CRO’s ruling declared the Renren page a “private site equivalent to a mailing list,” the DIE Board found that Lau’s campaign did not actually contravene any Students’ Union bylaw or elections regulations. Therefore, the DIE Board overturned the CRO’s decision, and Lau was not disqualified.
Woods vs. Lau/CRO — March 5, 2014
Prior to last year’s election, Lau had injured his ankle and Specialized Support and Disability Services provided him with a motorized scooter to aid in his mobility. The CRO gave Lau permission to use the scooter and affix campaign materials to his scooter.
Adam Woods, the other presidential candidate, appealed the CRO’s ruling regarding Lau’s use of his scooter to the DIE board. Woods argued that Lau was using the scooter beyond reasons of personal mobility, after claiming seeing Lau’s campaign volunteers operating his scooter affixed with campaign materials, and seeing Facebook posts made by Lau’s volunteers encouraging voters to ride on the “#Laumobile.”
The DIE Board found that since Lau took steps to stop the offending behaviour of his volunteers, he would not be subject to “punitive” fines. Rather, his campaign was fined $10 per day that the contentious Facebook post was online, totalling $50.
Ferguson vs. CRO – March 8, 2012
After Vice-President (External) candidate Dorothy Roberts made a classroom announcement encouraging students to vote for her, a student in the class, Arnold Yu, stood up and declared that students should vote for Roberts’ opponent, Petros Kusmu, instead.
CRO at the time, Zach Fentiman, did not impose a penalty on Kusmu because it was unclear whether Yu’s statements took place during class time. Kim Ferguson, campaign volunteer to Roberts, appealed this decision to the DIE Board.
The DIE Board found that Yu indeed made the announcement during class time, but since his statements weren’t “sufficiently egregious to be deemed malicious,” Kusmu wasn’t disqualified. The board did find, however, that Yu’s comments warranted punishment under Bylaw 2200, section 48, and imposed a $47.10 fine to his campaign.