It’s that time of year again – Humber Students’ Federation elections are here.
Nominations close today, triggering the month-long period of electing a new executive and Board of Directors team for the upcoming school year.
Electoral hopefuls will have to be verified and confirmed as eligible candidates before an All-Candidates Meeting on Feb. 17.
Campaigning officially begins at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 23. From there, candidates have two weeks to talk to students, debate their platforms, and plaster the school with election posters.
Current HSF VP Student Life North Ahmed Tahir said he believes that each potential candidate has something to offer.
“Each student that wants to run and ends up winning, I think they can provide their own type of leadership to that position. I’m of the belief that every person can lead in a different way and that leadership isn’t defined as one way to lead people or to do certain things,” said Tahir.
Selena Carbury is the person tasked with steering the organization through the tricky waters of election season, which last year featured significant turbulence when incumbent HSF president Tim Brilhante was disqualified for unspecified campaign irregularities.
As the Chief Returning Officer, Carbury is responsible for overseeing the elections and ensuring the entire process is fair and transparent.
The issue of fairness and transparency is especially important in this election given the controversial outcome of last year’s presidential race.
Business Administration student Shawn Manahan was proclaimed the winner after favoured incumbent Brilhante was disqualified hours before final results were announced.
Manahan’s election was ultimately overturned at HSF’s Annual General Meeting, when students voted 90-89 against accepting the election results.
This triggered a September by-election in which Humber students elected International Business student Tom Walton as their new president.
Manahan said the electoral situation last year boiled down to a loophole in the organization’s governance documents.
“I know that the (HSF Board of Directors) worked hard to tighten the wording in the constitution,” said Manahan.
Carbury said that, in the event of a disqualification, everyone gets a chance to speak. She said there is also a three-strike rule on election rule infractions that acts as an extra layer of checks and balances.
Carbury said the best way for candidates to combat confusion around election rules is to ask questions.
“The All-Candidates Meeting goes through all the rules…it’s like orientation for the candidates,” said Carbury.
For those who are thinking of running in an election, Tahir said potential candidates need to stop thinking and run.
“You can think about something forever before actually taking that step and that one step that you actually take outside of your comfort zone,” said Tahir. “That’s what’s actually important. Sometimes, you get stuck in that thinking or planning phase and never take action, which is the most important part.”
Carbury offered the following advice to candidates: “Keep in mind the pace at which everything is going. The entire thing runs from Jan. 5 to Mar. 13, which on paper seems like a long time, but it’s actually very fast-paced.”
Manahan, who has campaigned twice for the presidential seat, says the hardest part of the campaign is time management.
“You’re trying to balance everything – extracurricular organizations, academics, and campaigning,” he said.
Manahan said the best part about running is the opportunity to meet fellow candidates and voters.
Tahir echoed these sentiments, saying that the best part of his campaign was talking to students, asking them what they want done.
“Talk to students, hear their concerns, tell them your ideas and make that connection – online, offline, wherever you can find them,” said Tahir. “This is where elections are won or lost.”
Current HSF President Tom Walton touts the virtues of dressing for success.
“A lot of students wonder, ‘Why is this guy wearing a suit? Why is this guy taking this job so seriously?’ It is a very serious position,” he said.
“As the president, you represent the 27,000 as the chief spokesperson of the Humber Students’ Federation,” said Walton. “It’s a serious position not to be taken for granted… The way I perceive it, if you want to be taken seriously, then dress seriously.”
Above all, Walton says to keep two things in mind: “Make sure you don’t lose who you are – stay true to yourself – and make sure to have fun.”