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Letter of Protest concerning the SFUO filling vacant student senate positions WITHOUT elections

September 14, 2011

Hoang Pham, an undergraduate student from the Faculty of Arts and hopeful candidate to the Senate protests the SFUO’s activity regarding selection of new student representatives to the University of Ottawa Senate:

From: Hoang Pham
To: University of Ottawa Faculty and Students
Date: September 14, 2011
Subject: Letter of Protest concering the SFUO filling vacant student senate positions WITHOUT elections

Dear University of Ottawa Faculty and Students:

I write to you in a most urgent of times, because on September 15th, the SFUO is going to appoint new student senators to fill vacant positions without an election. I have been interested in representing my fellow students in the Faculty of Arts for months. When I discovered the SFUO’s decision to hand-pick senators at their own choosing, I was appalled at the lack of respect for the principles of justice, equal-opportunity, and democracy. What has caused the behaviour of the SFUO to become so corrupted? Instead of holding fair elections, the SFUO will be selecting new senators only on the “merits” of a CV and letter of interest—a feeble attempt to conceal their ability to arbitrarily choose anyone of their liking. It’s not a difficult exercise to realize that the SFUO is using this pathetic criterion as a sham so that the appointment of their “favourites” merely appears legitimate—albeit in a very weak sense. I, for one, and surely other students will not be so easily fooled by this poorly veiled deceit. Is it too much to appeal for fairness? If appeals to fairness aren’t enough to check the integrity of the SFUO, then decrees of the senate should: I invoke the Senate By-law on Composition of the Senate no. 1b. The by-law clearly states that “One full-time student elected by his peers in each of the Faculties of the University of Ottawa and one student for the two sections in Law; the method of election and the period of mandate to be determined by resolution of the Senate.” Therefore, I encourage everyone to put pressure on the SFUO for violating a senatorial decree and ignoring important tenets of just political process. We cannot afford to be laissez-faire at this critical juncture. The SFUO cannot be allowed to simply install individuals at its subjective discretion into positions of considerable authority and power, the Senate governs almost every aspect of university affairs. Let there be elections so that students may vote for their representatives! It is everybody’s duty to not tolerate injustice and hold the SFUO accountable for its actions. Have courage, for we need to move swiftly and rally immediately at this eleventh hour before the SFUO goes ahead with the appointments. I, myself, contest this insult to democracy by specifically calling on Liz Kessler, SFUO VP University Affairs, who is responsible for this matter to intervene and reverse the SFUO’s decision on not holding honest elections. Students simply ask for objective votes, not subjective views.  Give us the freedom to choose our leaders.

Sincerely,

Hoang Pham, 3rd-year Faculty of Arts student

This public letter was inspired by Cicero’s Phillipics.

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