Lack of student candidates for Board of Governor/Senate elections
// Victoria Fawkes

The way Capilano University elects students and faculty to Capilano University’s Board of Governors (BOG) and Senate may not be as dramatic as the US presidential election or as comedic as the late 1990s coming-of-age film Election, but thanks to new procedures that governed this year’s election, the level of drama and controversy certainly did rise a little higher than normal. Notably, this year’s BOG/Senate election, which was due to conclude on Apr. 2, has seen a lack of interested candidates to contest all of the positions.

The positions that were up for election were for four students to sit on the Senate and two to sit on the Board of Governors, both of which together constitute the highest-governing bodies of Capilano University. However, there was only one nomination for the student position on the BOG, from incumbent Senator Brandon Hofmarks, and only four nominations for the positions on Senate, from Hofmarks, David Clarkson, Jared Nash, and Jenna Theny. All of the nominees were acclaimed to their positions.

The closing date for nominations was during the middle of reading break, which has been brought up at Senate as something that potentially had a negative effect on the turnout of both student and faculty candidates.

Hofmarks is one student member of the Senate who saw a problem with the closing date. “Last year it wasn’t during the break, and at that time, we had eight people nominated for the Board of Governors and six people for Senate, so clearly this year was a mistake,” says Hofmarks.

Many of the faculty positions also suffered from a lack of candidates. “It was expressed by certain faculty members that it might be unreasonable for them to be able to nominate themselves for a Senate position because of the absence of pay and the time commitment,” says Kelsey Didlick, a sitting student Senator, of the increasingly low number of staff senate members.

“Currently, there are five faculty positions vacant, and the Senate is clearly lacking a faculty presence and point of view … There are a lot of decisions that need to be made and I think it’s disappointing that there’s no faculty presence yet,” she explains.

“I think we’ve had inconsistent showing,” says Karen McCredie, Registrar of Capilano University, in reference to the number of candidates every year. “The variation of impact can range widely, so I wouldn’t want to come up with an idea [why].”

McCredie is responsible for administering the election every year. On the subject of how elections are advertised, she says, “Every senator has a responsibility to discuss that [advertising] with their constituents. We also put information up on the TV monitors around campus, and on the Internet. We also send an email to teachers.”

At the last Senate meeting, the possibility of holding a by-election for both faculty and students was discussed, although no decision was made.

The new procedures that governed this year’s election were brought forward by McCredie and the committee responsible for setting election policy in an effort to bring more clarity to the election process.

“The big difference in the procedure document was a more detailed explanation about the process. So, there was almost no change to the process, it just outlined it more clearly, so that if anyone had a question, they could get their own answer and it would be clear and transparent,” says McCredie. “I included additional information around the election process, so the timing of the elections, or the time frame of the elections, as well as some description around campaigning, when elections results are posted, and how appeals would be managed,” she adds.

The new policy may also have been informed by the events of last year’s election, which had to be recalled due to a complaint that were submitted against two student candidates. The complaint alleged that the two candidates, currently sitting BOG/Senate representative David Clarkson and unsuccessful Senate candidate Justin Lew, had broken election rules by campaigning during the voting period. As a result, the registrar decided that the election results should be scrapped and held again, which ended up with all of the same candidates elected except one.

The new procedure provides more detail around how electoral complaints are dealt with. “There’s an appeal committee, chaired by myself, or the Vice-President Academic and Provost. [The complaint] is sent to the committee for review, and decision comes out of the committee,” explains McCredie.

However, the proposed policy did not pass without some controversy. Didlick and the other student representatives voiced their concerns to the Senate, following the package of amendments that were suggested by McCredie. She, along with the other student senators, were worried that the new amendments would have negative effects, and spoke up against the supposed disservice to students. They called for more time to consider the proposed changes.

“The conflict was that, despite the fact that Senate representatives objected to what affected them, it seemed as though we were not able to have a significant enough voice to be listened to and appreciated by the Senate,” says Didlick.

Didlick also sat on the subcommittee that wrote the procedure; however, she felt that her concerns were pertinent enough to bring up again when it came for final approval at the Senate.

The issue that the student representatives were mainly concerned about was the part of the new policy that stated who would be eligible to vote and/or run in the election. According to the rules that were proposed at the January Senate meeting, students who were either on academic probation or had outstanding financial holds did not have the eligibility to vote or stand for election. At that meeting, the policy was approved, except for the portion that Didlick and the other students expressed concern about, which was sent back for revision. As of the February Senate meeting
though, the definition of an eligible voting student is merely a student enrolled in at least one course at Capilano University.

Despite the fact that different parties have some disagreements on the issues surrounding elections, they all agree on the importance of including the student body in the decision-making process. “I would hate to see a student seat ever be empty. That kind of community engagement is critical to the success of the institution,” says McCredie.

//Victoria Fawkes, staff writer

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