Statement From the AMS Executive
November 19, 2015
KINGSTON, ON – Today, Kanivanan Chinniah, AMS President, made the following remarks at the Assembly meeting of November 19, 2015:
“On Monday, November 9, 2015, the Executive was notified by a participant in the Fall Referendum of concerns with regards to the status of the Chief Electoral Officer. Upon consultation with the University Registrar, the AMS determined that the Chief Electoral Officer was ineligible to hold their position during the Fall Referendum Period. As per Section 2.02 of the AMS Hiring & Appointments Policy & Procedures Manual, Sarah Letersky, then-interim AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs, was mandated to dismiss the Chief Electoral Officer.
“Under authority as per Policy Manual 1, Section 2, Part A (3) B, I called a Special Assembly for Tuesday, November 10, 2015 under emergency provisions to notify Assembly of the issue at hand in closed session. The decision to enter closed session was made given the discussion involved AMS personnel, which is a best practice to protect the individual.
“The Executive presented three options to Assembly in light of the status of the Chief Electoral Officer. These options ranged from affirming the results of the Fall Referendum, nullifying the results of fee questions where the vote outcome was decided within a small margin, or nullifying the results of the Fall Referendum altogether. Assembly was encouraged to review any other option notwithstanding the options provided.
“In the interest of perceived fairness, particularly due to the immense discretion afforded to the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct the election, Assembly expressed that a different Chief Electoral Officer could have made different rulings which might have substantially affected the results of the referendum process. Assembly also expressed that the integrity of an election where the Chief Electoral Officer did not hold AMS membership might be called into question if the results stood. Therefore, Assembly passed the following motion unanimously in closed session:
That AMS Assembly nullify the results of the 2015 fall referendum and allow the questions to be placed on the 2016 winter referendum.
“The AMS Executive abstained from the vote on this motion.
“Most groups that participated in the Fall Referendum period were notified over phone by Jon Wiseman, Commissioner of Internal Affairs. Some groups could not be reached, and Commissioner Wiseman sent email notifications to those groups. All groups were asked to keep the information confidential until the AMS released a statement on the matter.
“Throughout the course of notifying the fee groups, we were notified by a group which had participated in the fall referendum process was considering legal action against the AMS. Therefore, under our fiduciary responsibility to the AMS and full disclosure to Assembly, we delayed the publication of the announcement in order to seek legal advice as to the authority of the Assembly to make this decision.
“We notified the Assembly on Thursday, November 12, that we were undertaking an internal review of the results and we would communicate more details at the Assembly meeting of Thursday, November 19.
“We obtained two independent sources of advice which confirmed Assembly’s authority to make the decision. Section 5.02.01 of the AMS Constitution provides the basis for Assembly’s authority to nullify the results. Specifics of the legal advice has been provided to Assembly under separate cover of confidentiality, upon the advice of legal counsel.
“All fee groups that participated in the Fall Referendum will be allowed to participate in the Winter Referendum process without having to go through validation procedures. We believe that this is a fair course of action that does not compromise the integrity of the referendum process.
“The AMS regrets the inconvenience caused to all participants in the referendum process.”
Alma Mater Society (AMS) – http://www.myams.org
The central undergraduate student government at Queen’s University, the AMS represents over 16,000 students and is the oldest student government in Canada. The constituency is represented through 10 faculty and residence societies. The AMS Council, which is made up of a three-person executive, six commissioners, and three directors, oversees all day-to-day activities within the Society, including 10 corporate services and over 50 government committees that address virtually all matters of student life at Queen’s.