Print Edition: February 25, 2015
Two all candidates meetings (ACM) were scheduled to occur last week — one in Abbotsford and one in Chilliwack — but the meeting at CEP was cancelled 15 minutes after its start time when no students and only one candidate was present, besides representatives from The Cascade.
The ACM moderated by CIVL Radio saw three students attend, but the meeting was still held as most of the candidates for executive positions were in attendance. In a statement, chief electoral officer (CEO) Joe Johnson said the cancellation was more to do with candidate attendance than student turnout.
“The Thursday ACM would still have gone ahead for sake of the media and candidate exposure to students through The Cascade, if candidates were available.”
VP internal candidate Ricardo Coppola was excused from attending both meetings due to a family emergency. For the CEP ACM, Dylan Thiessen had a class in Abbotsford at the same time as the meeting, and Sukhi Brar had an unexpected medical emergency. Both are running for the VP external position, Thiessen as an incumbent.
Johnson listed the main factors affecting student turnout as organization, weak promotion, and student apathy.
“Organizing between the ACM hosts should have occurred a week earlier,” Johnson stated, adding that classroom locations were not ideal.
“Booking was done well in advance but only the classrooms that the ACMs were held in were available.” He also noted that promotions from organizers and hosts was weak, aimed at a “historically apathetic student body.”
Thomas Davies, current SUS VP internal and running for president in the election, said while he couldn’t comment on the organization of election activities since candidates aren’t involved in that aspect of the election, he agreed poor advertising was likely the cause of low student turnout.
“I think 99 per cent [of students] weren’t aware this is happening,” he said. “We need to ensure that with these types of events the information is put out in ways that people are going to see them.”
With regards to future elections, Johnson said the position of CEO could be split into two positions to balance the workload of planning election-related events.
“The CEO would oversee [an] Electorial Promotions Officer (EPO) but the CEO’s main role would be limited to officiating electoral issues, assessing rules, and ensuring a fair election. The EPO would be dedicated to getting students out to events, organizing the ACMs (with oversight by the CEO), organizing volunteers for voting stations, [and so on].”
If such a position were created, he said, 25 per cent of the CEO’s current time obligation could be reallocated to the second position.
There was no time to schedule an additional ACM before the elections, which are currently being held via myUFV at time of printing.
With files from Vanessa Broadbent.
Note: Joe Johnson is the Director of Business Development at The Cascade. Also, Katie Stobbart was scheduled to moderate the CEP ACM, but did not due to the cancellation.