Alleged electoral misconduct mars outgoing Halifax pres

The arms of Halifax College. Image credit: George Watson

Roman Rojik, the current Halifax College Student Association (HCSA) President, is facing allegations of bringing his additional position as the HCSA Returning Officer into disrepute. Evidence shown to Nouse reveals that Rojik publicly endorsed a presidential candidate, Hannah Sackville-Bryant, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

An anonymous Halifax student said that Rojik “completely undermined any sense of impartiality, and calls into question the legitimacy of the entire [presidential] election”. The election itself was very close, with Sackville-Bryant winning 260 votes compared to her opponent’s 240.In a Facebook post Rojik urged voters to support Sackville-Bryant, which was deleted after about an hour. Additionally, he publicly RSVP-ed as ‘going’ on Sackville-Bryant’s Facebook event, a common campaign tactic used by student candidates jostling for representative positions.

Nouse was also in-formed that Rojik liked posts by Sackville-Bryant’s supporters.After a compliant was filed to the HSCA, they replied that there was no clear procedure for this kind of alleged misconduct, and they asked what ‘resolution/relief ’ the complainant sought. The student stated that they were not seeking to re-run the elections, nor to under-mine the incoming President or her newly elected committee, especially given that she is due to replace Rojik as President by Christmas any-way. Rather, they stressed that their complaint was not related to the election outcome, but rather Rojik’s actions as a returning officer. They stated that they sought to seek “procedures to minimise these kinds of issues in future elections”.

Halifax’s constitution does not explicitly address the returning officer’s conduct. It states that the operational oversight of election conduct lies with YUSU, while general oversight lies with the 13-strong Halifax College Council, of which Rojik, as President, is a member by default. YUSU can only issue guidelines but “do not have the power to state what [a college’s] specific [election] rules should be”.

YUSU stated that while Rojik could have reasonably supported a candidate and exercised his voting rights as a Halifax individual, he should not have “endorsed a candidate under his formal position as President or returning officer”.

Rojik responded to the allegations, stating that it was “not a one off occurrence” after attempts to VONC (Vote of No Confidence) him in March, while he was President. He also stated the opinion that the new allegation came from an individual’s personal views over the past year rather than a place of professional concern.

“On individual claims of misconduct, all presidential candidates who invited me to a Facebook event received a reply and I did not share anyone’s event. On the post promoting a particular candidate: This was on my private account, not my presidential.”

“When we question impartiality, one should also look at the opponent’s advantage as a moderator of Halifax courts and then main College group. While [they] approved all of [their] posts not [all] candidates’ were approved at the same time due to a delaying tactic ensuring his were seen. I would finally like to question what impact my post had. I did not campaign for anyone nor did I engage in any contact with the candidates during the elections. It is a post like any of the others published in this group and expresses a personal not professional opinion.”

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