SGPS presidential re-election scheduled for March

Unprecedented election nullification has led to a by-election as approved by SGPS Council

The SGPS Council met to discuss the society's presidential election on Feb. 13.

After the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) presidential election results were nullified on Feb. 8, the SGPS council moved on Feb. 13 to commence a second election period in March. 

The election results, which would’ve inducted Stephanie McKnight as president-elect over runner up Tyler Morrison, were dissolved by the SGPS Judicial Committee after an investigation into a self-disclosed infraction by one of the candidates. 

After the committee’s decision was made public on Feb. 8, SGPS President Adam Grotsky criticized them for failing to provide an explanation. Though certain details weren’t disclosed — including which candidate committed the violation — the committee released a statement on Feb. 9 that said one candidate spent more than the allotted campaign budget. 

As the SGPS Judicial Committee was “unable to assess if the spending violation provided an advantage in the election,”  a decision was made to void the election results rather than disqualify the candidate. 

At the SGPS Council meeting on Feb. 13, Speaker Jennifer Williams commented on the nullification. “This is new territory,” she said. “We have never faced this in the history of the SGPS.” 

Though the committee recommended in their statement that either McKnight or Morrison be voted in at Tuesday’s meeting, Grotsky publicly voiced his desire to see a by-election occur instead of a vote-in, which he accordingly pushed for at council. 

At council, Grotsky stated that the election had the highest voter turnout in SGPS history, with 36.5 per cent of the student body voting as opposed to six per cent the year prior. 

“We had a turnout of 36.5 per cent, we finally got SGPS members engaged, and now we’re going to go back to them and say ‘Thanks for voting but sorry, it doesn’t matter,’” Grotsky said at the meeting. “I don’t want to send that message to the student body. The student body has expressed a strong will to have their voice heard in this election, and I believe that a by-election is the only way at this point to respect that need.” 

“It sets a pretty dangerous precedent in my mind, and a horrible message to the student body,” he added. 

Several representatives at the council meeting also voiced dissatisfaction with the Judicial Committee’s statement and said it “lacked transparency.” Concerns were raised regarding whether they had enough information to vote in a president that accurately reflected the wishes of their respective departments and the SGPS as a whole. 

Despite criticism from incoming Vice President (Graduate) Leo Erlikhman that a by-election would stagnate the transition process for the incoming executive, Grotsky assured council transition would be able to continue smoothly despite the second election period.

During the vote, SGPS Council moved for the by-election. McKnight and Morrison will begin a second campaign period from March 5 to 11, and SGPS students will vote for the next president a second time on March 12 and 13. 

In the meantime, the four SGPS Vice Presidents, who were ratified at the council meeting, will continue their transition as planned. 

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