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SU election candidate has posters defaced

By Kristy Koehler, March 4 2020—

Students’ Union presidential candidate Leam Dunn has apparently drawn the ire of vandals opposed to the use of his ‘Make UCalgary Great Again’ slogan and red hat. 

Dunn believes he’s been singled out due to the resemblance of his campaign to Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ catchphrase and widely-recognized red hat.

Extinction Rebellion stickers were put over Dunn’s face and statements like ‘Say no to fascism’ and ‘Make ethics great again’ and “We stand with Wet’suwet’en’ have been scrawled across his posters.

The candidate for SU president says “it’s confusing” that he’s been the target of such vandalism.

“It started off as stickers here and there from Extinction Rebellion,” said Dunn. “And now we’ve started seeing posters disappear. I started off with a lot of posters and I think only about 10–20 are still remaining, and of that, five are unvandalized.”

Dunn says he won’t be printing more posters.

“I made a promise to keep my campaign eco-neutral and limited waste,” said Dunn. “I actually did not get banners because I thought they were wasteful. I set myself a 200-page limit — 150 posters and 50 sheets of handbills. That’s all I printed and that’s all I’m going to print.”

The Elections Manual for the SU 2020 General Election does not allow for printing and hanging extra posters, even if candidates’ have been torn down.

Dunn also says he’ll replant the number of trees that correspond to the percentage of the vote he wins by, if elected, to counteract the waste of his posters, making it doubly confusing for him that his face was covered by an Extinction Rebellion sticker.

Dunn says he’s also been confronted in the hallways and while eating his lunch.

“Someone came up to me and asked why I support fascist populism,” he said. “I don’t. There’s people who clearly don’t understand satire who come up to me and say ‘Hate won’t get you anywhere.’”

Dunn admits that his campaign started mostly as a joke, with his platform on the SU’s website wholly based on having a meme degree stream and hosting Bermuda Shorts Day outside. He insists that it’s all in good fun.

As for what type of people he thinks would spend their time defacing his posters, Dunn says “they’re the kind of people who read Karl Marx once and think they’re going to change the world by messing with someone running as a joke in a student election.”

There is no recourse through the Students’ Union for Dunn. 

“The Elections Policy is written for candidates of SU elections during elections,” said the Chief Returning Officers in a statement. “Complaints may be submitted against candidates who violate rules within this policy, however, it does not apply to students who are not running or part of a campaign. Unless a candidate or campaign volunteer is implicated, the SU does not have the authority to take any sort of action on individuals who deface posters.

“If a conduct-related complaint is submitted to the SU the CROs’ role is to work with the university. Ultimately, the university’s Conduct Office is responsible for investigating or dealing with the consequences of a student’s conduct, and any student can make a non-academic misconduct complaint to them if they feel a university policy has been broken. The SU does not have separate rules or processes for these complaints.”

Dunn says campus security has been informed of both the vandalism and the confrontations and has been responsive. He also says that he’s received some good feedback from other students.

“Other than this, it’s been overwhelmingly supportive,” said Dunn who is going to continue his campaign by wandering around campus with his sign and his hat, chatting with students about his ideas.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said.

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