The Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG), the University of Alberta’s student-led anti-oppressive and student democratic engagement non-profit is appalled at the shocking, undemocratic ruling of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union’s (UASU) Chief Returning Officer (CRO) which overturns the election of Lisa Glock as President of the UASU. 

On March 12th, 2024, the CRO published a ruling asserting that Glock had violated the UASU’s election bylaws and consequently overturned her candidacy in an unprecedented move with wide-reaching implications for stifling democratic participation on campus.

In the ruling, the CRO states they heard a comment from an unknown student calling Presidential Candidate Michael Griffiths “Islamophobic,” and used this as evidence that the Griffiths campaign was unfairly treated by Glock. Somehow, we are meant to draw the inference that President-Elect Lisa Glock had any knowledge of – or endorsement of – this hearsay speech, and that this alleged endorsement is grounds for disqualification.

The CRO states that the student making this comment was a member of the emancipatory Palestinian liberation group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), though SJP holds no membership lists. Even if this did occur, the incident would have no bearing on the legitimacy of Glock as a candidate, as a single individual expressing an opinion does not constitute targeted election interference. Glock has indicated that she had no knowledge of or involvement in the alleged speech. 

Further, the ruling intimates – using circumstantial ‘evidence’ – that there is a substantive link between the Glock campaign and SJP. The ruling repeatedly utilizes phrasing like “the Election Office has reason to believe…” without providing any substantial evidence of their allegations. It is impossible for Glock to be able to respond to accusations provided in the ruling based on weak evidence, and this makes a mockery of student’s democratic participation. 

The ruling relies on surreptitiously acquired audio recordings that, as quoted in the document, only point to President-Elect Glock as having heard SJP intends to endorse candidates who support the liberation of Palestine. This is hardly damning evidence. SJP has a right to endorse candidates who advocate for Palestinian liberation, and any candidate running for office may have received an endorsement for their policy platform on this issue. Likewise, SJP’s decision to oppose other candidates based on their lack of support for Palestinian liberation is well within their rights, and does not constitute a malicious “attack” as the ruling attempts to claim.

These rights are explicitly granted by SU bylaw 320:

 “12.1 Any Member, with the exception of the C.R.O., the D.R.O.s, and incumbent Members of the Executive Committee who are not also Candidates shall be free to endorse or Volunteer for any Candidate.”

The effect of this ruling is to deny students and campus student groups the ability to participate in UASU elections, or to advocate for any issues that matter to them during elections. Students and student groups have a charter-supported and UASU Bylaw-supported right to participate in UASU elections by speaking in favour of candidates or issues they support. Such speech does not constitute collusion or a violation of any UASU Bylaws, and the ruling does not even attempt to provide a link between the bylaws and the alleged ‘behaviour’ of candidate Glock, who is not a member of or responsible for the actions of SJP. 

This ruling must be overturned immediately by the Discipline Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) board of the UASU. A failure to do so will render the results of this UASU Election entirely illegitimate.