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SU president-elect disqualified, awaits DIE Board decision on appeal

The DIE Board hearing on Glock's appeal, that was closed to the public, took place on March 20. A decision has yet to be announced.

UPDATE: Shortly after publication, the DIE Board released its decision — the CRO ruling was found to be incorrect. The Gateway is currently reaching out to those involved for comment. An updated article will be released as soon as possible.

In the 2024 Students’ Union (SU) elections, president-elect Lisa Glock was disqualified according to ruling #17, released on March 12. The Chief Returning Officer (CRO) ruling responded to a complaint made by presidential candidate and current Vice-president (student life) Michael Griffiths.

Glock was disqualified for the following allegations: violating SU bylaw, the “harm done to the fairness of the election,” and “intentional misrepresentation of information to the Elections Office” regarding her alleged involvement with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

The CRO ruling received criticism from students and groups online. The Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) put out a statement on March 13 that called the ruling “undemocratic.”

“This ruling must be overturned immediately by the Discipline Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) Board of the SU,” the statement read. “A failure to do so will render the results of this SU Election entirely illegitimate.”

SJP also put out a statement on Instagram on March 14, which called the allegations against Glock “unsubstantiated, false, and based on hearsay.”

“It is absurd for the president-elect, or any candidate for that matter, to be punished for publicly and unequivocally supporting the Palestinian cause,” the statement said.

As well, a petition created on March 14 to reinstate Glock began circulating. At the time of publication, it had garnered 85 signatures.

Glock filed a hearing application to appeal the ruling to the DIE Board on March 14. The hearing was held on March 20. A decision has yet to be announced.

According to a post on both the SU and SU Elections Instagram accounts, the hearing was closed to the public “to ensure the safety of participants required to attend.” The Gateway reached out to the two students named in both the CRO rulings and Glock’s appeal, as both left comments on the post that expressed discontent with being unable to attend the hearing, as they were publicly named in documents pertaining to Glock’s disqualification. One student, Prometheus Voaklander, responded in time for comment. However, the other student, who was granted anonymity during Glock’s hearing, was unable to respond in time for publication.

The Gateway reached out to Glock and Griffiths for comment on March 13. Both chose to not provide comment until after a DIE Board decision was made.

Additionally, on March 16, The Gateway interviewed Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) Sithara Naidoo about Glock’s disqualification, as well as vice-president (academic) candidate Farah Elgaweesh’s disqualification.

Glock disqualified for allegedly withholding information and not acting in good faith towards Griffiths and Elections Office, ruling says

On March 7, the Elections Office released CRO ruling #6, which found that during the campaign, Glock’s “lack of action” regarding distancing herself from SJP’s election activities violated bylaw. The ruling said that “Glock did not distance herself from SJP’s somewhat proxy campaigning until the Elections Office asked her to post a public campaign non-affiliation in regards to SJP.” 

Glock was fined $150, but not disqualified. She appealed the ruling to the DIE Board. On March 12, the DIE Board decided not to disqualify Glock as “no breaches were found.” On March 11, Griffiths filed a complaint as supplementary evidence to ruling #6, which resulted in ruling #17.

According to ruling #17, Griffiths alleged that Glock’s relationship with SJP’s elections activities were intentional; that Glock did not deal with the Elections Office in good faith; and that bylaw contravention between Glock and SJP “occurred over a prolonged period.”

Griffiths provided evidence, including an audio file that the ruling said invalidated Glock’s statements to the Elections Office about her relationship to SJP’s elections activities. As well, his evidence cited campaign materials that were allegedly vandalized by SJP, according to the ruling. The evidence also referred to posters covered by SJP materials, which “is relevant to Glock” because she posted an endorsement on Instagram by Voaklander, SJP’s research lead. 

In an email comment to The Gateway, Voaklander said that the inclusion of his name in the ruling implied that he vandalized the posters, which is “patently false.”

“My endorsement is only relevant to this act of vandalism if you assume that I did it,” he said. “I did no vandalism whatsoever. No proof is given because it’s not true.”

He added that he “didn’t do any campaigning for SJP nor [Glock].” Referring to the closed hearing, Voaklander said that he wasn’t given the opportunity to defend himself. He said he reached out to Griffiths and Verghese to redact his name, as he felt it wasn’t relevant to the ruling. However, Griffiths is out of office as vice-president (student life) and Verghese did not respond, Voaklander said.

“I wanted to intervene as a last resort to correct defamatory misinformation, but have been denied that for claims of ‘safety’,” he said. “But whose safety? Clearly not mine, or any other student named in this report, but [we were] denied the right to defend ourselves.”

Lastly, Griffiths’ evidence included the “sharp rise in online backlash” he faced when SJP posted its candidate choices on Instagram.

Anonymous individual provided information that supports evidence from Griffiths, according to ruling

The ruling said that Griffiths’ evidence was supported by an anonymous individual that provided physical and verbal information to the Elections Office.

The individual told the Elections Office that 12 days before the campaign began, Glock told them that “she was meeting with SJP regarding helping her with her campaign.” The individual alleged that a student who the individual “believes … has a high-ranking position within SJP,” was one of Glock’s primary contacts at SJP. The student was initially named in the CRO rulings and Glock’s appeal to the DIE Board, but was granted anonymity during Glock’s hearing, and was referred to as X in DIE Board documents.

According to the individual, Glock was aware that SJP would release their candidate choices, based on “candidates’ stances on Palestine.” The individual claimed that Glock told them Griffiths would be the “only candidate receiving a public denouncement from SJP.” Additionally, the individual said Glock sent them a screenshot of X’s close friends story on Instagram, in which X “denounced” anyone who voted for Griffiths. 

The individual provided further allegations regarding Glock’s relationship with X and SJP. They alleged that X, “through SJP, essentially functioned as Glock’s volunteer,” that Glock called X her “unofficial second campaign manager,” and that Glock was “aware of [SJP’s] intention to slander and denounce Griffiths.”

When the Elections Office asked Glock about her alleged comment on X campaign affiliation, Glock replied that she “might have called him” that, but it “was not meant seriously,” according to the ruling.

The ruling also referred to an Instagram video that Glock posted during the campaign period, addressing her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The ruling said that the video was reposted by SJP with “additional commentary directed towards Griffiths.” As well, the anonymous individual alleged that X helped Glock with the video.

The ruling disqualified Glock on the grounds that she allegedly violated bylaw by withholding information about SJP breaking election rules, and didn’t act in good faith towards Griffiths and the Elections Office multiple times.

Glock appeals ruling, both Griffiths and DRO submit responses

In Glock’s appeal to the disqualification, she responded to each of the allegations listed in the ruling. Her appeal said that the allegations relied “extensively on anonymous and unverified evidence, including significant amounts of hearsay and second or third-hand information.”

“It is impossible to establish the veracity of anonymous accusations, even if their comments were damning, which we will establish, they are not,” Glock said in her appeal.

In the appeal, Glock said she “had no relationship to or responsibility for the actions of SJP.” Glock also denied having misrepresented information to the Elections Office during and after the campaign period, and said that the Glock campaign “is not and could not be responsible for the actions of third-party students or student groups.” 

As well, Glock said that X was not involved in the Glock campaign. She also responded that the Glock campaign consulted with numerous student groups, and “SJP is unaffiliated with the Glock campaign.”

Regarding the Instagram video she posted addressing her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Glock said X lent her a camera for use. However, she said that “SJP had no part in planning or releasing this video, and the words and opinions expressed are solely those of the Glock campaign.”

In the beginning of Glock’s appeal, she said that CRO Jacob Verghese and Griffiths are friends, and that “Verghese has a personal interest in the outcome of these proceedings.”

In response to Glock’s appeal, Griffiths filed a DIE Board respondent application on March 20. Griffiths said that he acknowledged his friendship with Verghese, and both took steps to ensure election fairness in the application.

Griffiths also said that “whenever possible,” responsibilities and decisions pertaining to Griffiths or the presidential race were delegated to Naidoo. 

“Throughout the election, both Verghese and I have acted in good faith and taken steps wherever possible to limit the impact our friendship has on elections,” Griffiths said. “The actions of the Elections Office and myself should be assumed in good intent, unless given a reason to do so otherwise.”

Griffiths’ application also responded to all of Glock’s appeal responses. According to Griffiths, “Glock’s appeal introduces no new evidence to disprove the claims made in the Elections Office’s ruling.” He further said that the Elections Office and his response demonstrated multiple bylaw violations that are “more than substantial to uphold Ruling #17.”

On March 20, Naidoo also submitted a DIE Board respondent application to Glock’s appeal. The response supplied the transcripts of the audio files and the email testimonies used to support ruling #17, but redacted personal information. Initially, this evidence was not available to the public.

Naidoo alleged that “Glock failed to demonstrate the SJP acted without her consent,” that “Glock was aware of [SJP’s] activities and made no attempt to halt [them],” and that “Glock’s story has not been consistent.”

As well, Naidoo said that candidates must show their non-affiliation to third-parties “from the get go,” and it’s “not enough for Glock to demonstrate this to the DIE Board after the fact.”

Naidoo addresses concerns with rulings during interview, encourages students to “apply a critical eye”

In Naidoo’s interview with The Gateway, she explained that the CRO rulings kept individuals anonymous due to safety and privacy concerns.

“It’s not hearsay information. We know exactly who it comes from, their role in the election, and their position on campus,” Naidoo said. She added that the Elections Office has anonymous individuals on the record with audio recordings and written evidence.

“From now, it’s up to the DIE Board to interpret what that evidence means. But the Elections Office does defend that it’s not hearsay, that it is relevant, and that it is correct. We’re just looking to protect their safety.”

The Gateway asked Naidoo about the perceived conflict of interest between Griffiths and Verghese. Naidoo replied that when Griffiths gave his complaint to the Elections Office, he asked for Naidoo to handle ruling #17.

“The CRO is pretty removed from this one,” Naidoo said. She added that Glock was told of the situation during the investigation and conversations.

“It’s a perceived conflict of interest. So we took that as an extra precaution to help make that less blurry for people.”

The Gateway asked what the Elections Office considers the difference to be between a perceived and genuine conflict of interest. Naidoo replied that she’d “leave that one for the hearing.”

The Gateway also asked how decisions were made when it came to what constituted a third-party violation. Naidoo said that the Elections Office interprets third-parties as parties “not officially affiliated and registered with the SU.”

“SJP is a third-party. They’re not an official group with the University of Alberta, and they don’t answer to the SU at all, or the U of A,” Naidoo added.

Naidoo encouraged students to read the documents, “apply a critical eye,” and “educate themselves as much as possible.”

“Also, trust the process of all of this. The DIE Board exists for a reason — to make decisions when everyone else’s decisions are questioned.”

This is an evolving story. If you have any information pertinent to the story, please reach out to [email protected].

With files from Katie Teeling.

UPDATE: This article was updated on March 21 at 6:18 p.m. to remove the name of the student, referred to as X in DIE Board proceedings, who was mentioned in both Glock’s appeal and the CRO ruling. The Gateway initially included their name in coverage.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2023-24 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science. She enjoys skiing, walks in the river valley, and traveling.

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