Three contenders in the YUSU elections have been banned from campaigning on campus following a breach of election regulations.
Presidential hopefuls Laura Payne and Nadeem Kunwar, and AU Presidential candidate Chris Collinson have all been barred from campaigning on Wednesday, March 5th after a YUSU decision announced today.
The ban means that only one presidential candidate – Mad Captain Tom Scott – will be free to campaign on campus tomorrow. The Captain, whose pirate antics have successfully seeped into student consciousness, has recently re-launched his campaign after declaring himself a serious candidate.
Payne faces a campus-wide ban tomorrow from 12.00pm to 5.00pm after one of her official campaigners, Alexios Mantzarlis, tagged several people in a Facebook note about her.
In an email sent out to candidates, Societies and Communications Officer, Sam Bayley, said that “this is different from emailing out a group set up for the sole purpose of campaigning, and this is why sanctions have been imposed.
Payne, however, expressed distress at a lack of clarity from YUSU regarding election regulations and the use of Facebook. “We respect the decision by the returning officers and are sorry the situation arose,” she said in a statement earlier today. “However, we were not aware that we were doing anything wrong, because this is the first time that Facebook has been allowed in an election and there is no precedent. Also, the rules we did have seem to imply that Facebook notes would be fine, and the only thing that would not be allowed are events,” she said.
Responding to claims that the rules governing Facebook campaigning were unclear Bayley said: “All candidates were made fully aware of the election rules at the Rules and Regs meeting before the start of campaigning. This was a compulsory meeting and the rules were explained in full. This included restrictions on sending out messages to unsolicited lists of people. Basically, candidates were only allowed to message people in groups set up for the purpose of their campaign. This clearly isn’t the case with notes where random people are tagged in, or where a sports club list is used for emailing out.”
Campaigner Mantzarlis echoed Payne’s sentiments. “It is especially sad as Laura has been so conscientious and worked with the SU. All she was told was that she couldn’t create an event, and so the definitions from the SU were not clear…I don’t think it’ll have a negative effect on her chances, but it isn’t fair,” he said.
Payne’s rival Kunwar faces similar disciplinary action from 9.00am to 5.00pm tomorrow, after a campaigning jibe was added to the end of a mass email sent out to members of FutsalSoc, of which Kunwar is a member.
The email, which Kunwar did not write, ended with the note: “And after you’ve done that, Vote Nadz for president!! Head to “http://www.yusu.org”www.yusu.org – log in, vote, and make sure the right man wins the post.”
Kunwar described the action taken by the Union as “ridiculous,” saying that “you shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of people who are not your campaigners. I knew nothing about the email until Sam Bayley told me. I am disappointed, and I think the rules need to be looked at as there has been confusion.”
Collinson has been sanctioned for postering in computer rooms during voting week, which is forbidden under election regulations. As the election takes place solely online, computer rooms are considered to be the ballot box.