By Kristy Koehler, June 21 2019—
For the second time this year, University of Calgary undergraduates have only had one voice representing them at Board of Governors meetings due to an ongoing appeal process disputing the results of the March 7 Students’ Union General Election.
Incumbent candidate Frank Finley filed his appeal on March 14, alleging discrepancies in campaign spending and classroom talks on the part of his opponent, Ananya Ayachit. As per policy, the appeal was handed over to a Review Board. However, due to a declared conflict of interest by members of the Review Board, the process is still ongoing. The Students’ Legislative Council appointed an Interim Review Board at their June 4 council meeting.
Undergraduate students normally have two voices on the Board of Governors, the SU president and an elected student-at-large.
“I really want another student on the Board of Governors, just as much as the Board of Governors candidates want to be on the Board of Governors,” said SU president Jessica Revington. “I think it’s really important to have student representation on the board and I think it’s really unfortunate that we don’t have a second student at the current time.
“That being said, I’m doing the best that I can with what I have, and with the board, to make sure that the student voice is still being heard, despite there being only one representative.”
The student-at-large and the SU president represent different interests on the board and sit on different subcommittees.
“The student-at-large remains at arms-length from the Students’ Union in everything that they do,” said Revington. “While we both sit on the Board of Governors, and while on the Board of Governors represent students and the student voice, we also have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the university. In my role, I use my knowledge of the Students’ Union, I use my understanding of what student advocacy priorities are, what student priorities on campus are, to inform my understanding of what comes to the Board of Governors. The student-at-large is meant to represent a grassroots understanding of what student priorities are. They come in with a different perspective and offer that second student voice.”
In the event that the Review Board fields a decision that either candidate is unsatisfied with, the issue can be taken to a Tribunal, starting yet another process of review.
There is no timeline for a decision, though the SU’s website indicates that decisions should be made within a “reasonable timeframe.”
“We would hope that the Review Board and Tribunal process would happen as expediently as possible,” said Revington. “Normally the Review Board and Tribunal do work quite expediently, we’ve just had some administrative issues with there being a conflict of interest and SLC having to go through the process of appointing interim members.”
Revington says she isn’t in contact with the candidates, out of respect for the appeal process.
“I want to let the Review Board work through their process as best they can, so I will sit on the Board of Governors in my role as president, in my role as a student, and when the new representative is finally appointed, I look forward to working with them,” she said.
Both Ayachit and Finley were present as gallery members during the last two meetings.