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Aboriginal Student Council referendum found to be in breach of SU bylaw

The Students’ Union’s judiciary has found that SU bylaws were broken in the recent the Aboriginal Student Council (ASC) referendum. However, the referendum results will not be overturned.

The ruling from the Discipline, Interpretation, and Enforcement (DIE) Board, released on March 22, found that Students’ Council misinterpreted their own bylaws when they approved ASC’s referendum question seeking to approve the opt-outable $1.00 per term fee. The referendum passed on March 7, with 58 per cent of students voting yes.

As the ruling found that the error was on Students’ Council’s part, and not on ASC’s part, the creation of the $1.00 fee will still proceed.

“The referendum did not comply with Bylaw,” said the ruling delivered by DIE Board chief tribune Karamveer Lalh. “However, this board takes no action other than ruling that a contravention occurred.”

Initially, on March 7, former ASC president and current arts councillor Deirdra Cutarm alleged that Students’ Council breached their own bylaws by letting the ASC referendum appear on the ballot. Specifically, Cutarm argued ASC should’ve completed a petition, with the valid signatures of at least 15 per cent of the student population, before the question could’ve been approved to appear on the ballot.

In response, Students’ Union president Reed Larsen argued that Cutarm was misunderstanding the relevant bylaw and that the referendum followed proper procedure. Larsen added that Students’ Council has the ability to approve questions on the ballot internally without the need of the petition system Cutarm mentioned.

But the ruling found that the mechanism for approving a ballot question without a petition was improperly applied and that Students’ Council’s interpretation was incorrect.

Cutarm also made another complaint regarding the plebiscite campaign to renew the Student Legal Service’s $0.75 per term fee, arguing that their application was missing key information like the composition of the board overseeing the administration of the fee. Lalh’s ruling found that SU bylaw was broken by the omission of that information, but decided that it was unnecessary to invalidate the results of the plebiscite.

A concurring decision by tribune Christian Zukowski mentions that one remedy that was considered was to order the Students’ Union to pay ASC $92,659.50, the revenue that would’ve been generated by the fee. However, the DIE Board did not opt for that course of action.

Nathan Fung

Nathan Fung is a sixth-year political science student and The Gateway's news editor for the 2018-19 year. He can usually be found in the Gateway office, turning coffee into copy.

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