This article was updated on Nov. 16.
Alexei Simakov will not be the next vice-president (VP) Internal of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). The by-election that was held to fill the position vacated by Lola Baraldi in October resulted in 51.7 per cent of students voting “No.” Voter turnout was 16.7 per cent. As a result, SSMU will enter into another by-election immediately.
According to Article 21 of Elections SSMU bylaws, the next election for the VP Internal will include a nomination period of four business days, an election campaign period of five days, and a polling period of two business days. If no candidates run during this nomination period, the decision on whether or not to hold the by-election, or to leave the position vacant, will be left to SSMU Legislative Council.
Simakov stated that he will be petitioning the SSMU Judicial Board (J-Board) over alleged by-law violations throughout the election.
“The J-Boards are not with the purpose of overturning the election,” Simakov wrote in an email to the Tribune. “They are because of numerous infractions of the by-laws to my detriment. Our campaign team is currently in discussion with both [Elections SSMU] and the SSMU VP University Affairs and hope to be able to resolve these concerns in mediation without the need for a lengthy trial process.”
Simakov explained his concerns over the contentious climate of this election.
“I am further concerned about the extremist language, including absolutely unacceptable accusations of Nazism and homophobia against myself and my supporters, that was hosted on the [Unofficial “No” Vote Facebook page],” Simakov wrote. “This wasn't just unpleasant for me, it was hurtful to my campaign team and supporters who felt uncomfortable participating in the public debate. It is exceptionally hypocritical to argue that you are opposed to the election culture of personal attacks only to create a forum for that exact purpose.”
Following Céleste Pagniello’s withdrawal from the VP Internal race on Nov. 12, Simakov ran uncontested. Pagniello cited threats to herself and her family as the reason why she withdrew.
SSMU VP Clubs and Services Kimber Bialik noted that the process of running for student government can be strenuous, especially in light of recent elections.
“Campaigns have gotten uncontrollably aggressive and personal and […] at this point, it’s pretty detrimental to a person’s mental health to be put through that rigorous scrutiny,” Bialik said. “At this point, it’s not at all sustainable to have people running for these roles. People are not going to run for these roles if they know that’s what they have to put themselves through, that’s not how you sustain an organization.”
The Fall 2015 referendum question on the creation of a SSMU safety network fee passed by a vote of 75.3 per cent, while an increase in the CKUT fee failed by a vote of 54.7 per cent. The plebiscite questions resulted in “Yes” votes for all three: 79.0 per cent for SSMU involvement in student-run cooperatives, and the two part question on the reforming the Old McGill yearbook by 56.9 per cent and 76.6 per cent, respectively.
Additional reporting by Morgan Alexander.