By Gayathri Peringod, February 4 2020—
In early January, Joshua Lee was sworn in to the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) representative position in the Students’ Legislative Council following controversy surrounding the October byelection for his position.
The results of the byelection for the CSM faculty representative position were announced on Oct. 18, with Lee coming in first. However, files provided by the SU indicate that Britney Wong — a fellow byelection candidate — appealed the results of the election ten days later.
The SU Review Board, which handles disputed SU elections, conducted a hearing on the appeal on Nov. 26. The appeal filed by Wong was in regard to “the legitimacy of Joshua Lee’s involvement with the currently elected Faculty of Medicine representative Siavash Zarezadeh, and in relation to the outcome of the SU By-Election result.”
Five days earlier, SLC members unanimously approved a motion to recommend the impeachment of Zarezadeh after SU president Jessica Revington lodged a complaint against him. Zarezadeh subsequently resigned — his position remains vacant.
The Review Board’s Decision expresses concerns regarding the fairness of the CSM byelection.
“The Review Board was concerned that Mr. Lee had his name on SU branded posters,” the Review Board Decision stated. “He was not officially affiliated with the SU as the posters would suggest … this potentially gives the candidate more credibility and professional connections within that faculty.
“The Review Board agreed that there was a potentially unfair advantage granted to Mr. Lee by having unfair SU access, which he then leveraged in his campaign platform. Mr. Lee had to work closely with Mr. Zarezadeh to gain this experience.”
However, the Board ultimately decided not to grant the appeal, the document reveals.
“The Review Board does not condone the past actions of the defendant Joshua Lee in regards to being involved with confidential SU meetings and formal proceedings.
“However the Review Board feels that the relevant connection between Joshua Lee’s involvement with the SU before and during the SU By-Election campaign period is too speculative to note a measurable impact on the final outcome of the Faculty of Medicine Representative contest.”
The document goes on to state that the Board does not believe that the evidence presented to the panel connects Lee’s prior SU experience to his byelection campaign with enough certainty.
“The Review Board feels that the evidence presented is not concrete enough to say with absolute certainty that Joshua Lee’s prior involvement with the SU resulted in an advantage for him in the SU By-Election, nor can the magnitude of this perceived advantage be gauged.”
By granting this appeal, the byelection result would need to either be retroactively confirmed or overturned. The Board’s Decision states that doing so “would be unreasonable in this circumstance.”
The Review Board made its decision on Dec. 1, 2019. Joshua Lee was officially sworn in as CSM representative on Jan. 7, 2020, a little over a month after the byelection results announced him as the winner.
“The review board is part of the SU’s judiciary branch, independent of both SLC and elections staff,” Revington said in an email statement. “We respect the judicial process that was followed in this matter.”