York University president Mamdouh Shoukri has requested York’s university ombudsperson to review the recent York Federation of Students election following a series of complaints about perceived bias against the opposition “New York” slate. In a letter laying out the terms of reference for the review, Dr. Shoukri states:
“Presidential Regulation 4 (Regulation 4) delegates to student governments and organizations the primary responsibility for the organization and conduct of elections. However Regulation 4 notes that the President retains residual responsibility to ensure the democratic, orderly and responsible conduct of elections. The President and the administration also stand in a fiduciary relationship to York students by virtue of the significant fees that are collected by the University from all York students for the purposes of funding student government.”
The review is a significant moment for student unions in Ontario as it is rare instance of an university administration exercising oversight of student union elections. The Ombuds has been requested to conclude his review and report the findings by July, 30, 2010.
The response of the university and the students union will redefine the level of autonomy that student unions enjoy from conditions of fee collection imposed by university Board of Governors.
The president of the YFS criticized the appointment of Dr. John D. McCamus as ombudsperson last year due to McCamus part-time employment as Faculty member at York. As a past dean of York’s Osgoode Hall law school, it will not be a surprise for the YFS to accuse the ombuds of having a perceived conflict of interest.