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appeals filed; “smear campaign” alleged

February 23rd, 2012

The Gazette is reporting that Arron and Beale have filed appeals.

The headline and the first few paragraphs are dedicated to Arron’s allegation that a “smear campaign” was launched against him, referring readers to punditry.ca as evidence.  (To be clear to new visitors, I believe he’s not alleging that the site itself is orchestrating a campaign, or the pundits, but rather that evidence of such a campaign may be seen on this site given its role as a nexus of election information.  No hate mail, please.)

It’s not clear from the article which of the offences was caused or perpetrated by the smear campaign, or if that is just a parenthetical remark.  (Arron took to Twitter to clarify that this was a secondary comment; we’ve reached out to him to offer to publish in full his case).

They largely ignored my comments on working-around-the-rules appeals, which is fair as I was not optimistic about most of them.  Beale in particular blames an unregistered volunteer who was not aware of the rules; Arron variously notes there is no specific prohibition against campaigning in residence, that his posts weren’t campaigning, that the video is owned by an independent director not the DSU, and that his website could not have had any impact on the election.  The Gazette article has details.

Update 02/26: Jamie Arron has put up a website detailing his appeals.

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  1. February 23rd, 2012 at 18:50 | #1

    If Jamie tries to overturn the video based on it being property of an independent director (whose occupation is filming things for hire) then the full value of the shoot would have to be applied to his campaign budget. I’m guessing it costs more than $200 to hire him for the day, and my quick math says that that would put him over budget.

  2. HK
    February 23rd, 2012 at 18:51 | #2

    hmmm interesting. I didn’t think that the elections rules had any caveats that you had to violate them AND show that it affected the vote. I thought it was pretty cut and dry — follow the rules, smooth sailing; fuck up, and you will be fined.

    also, just an fyi, the Elections Committee not only gets to enforce the campaign rules, but they also get to make sure that the candidates abide by the DSU constitution and any other rules or policies of the university/the government. otherwise candidates could just do whatever the hell they wanted, but it would be okay, cause the EC wouldn’t be able to keep them in line.

    just hang up your hat — if you can’t follow the rules now, how will you follow and enforce them as the President, Mr Arron? Enough with the clear disregard and disrespect for the institution you currently are a part of. Or did you forget that, too? Because apparently you aren’t an “insider”….

  3. February 23rd, 2012 at 19:14 | #3

    The information from Arron and Beale adds a new dimension to the charges. While my track record on predicting the outcome of appeals is not so great, here’s some speculation on what issues will be considered, whatever the decision.

    Beale
    Charge: post-campaigning posters/handbills
    Defence:

    “Beale says the person who issued the handbills was not a registered member of his campaign and he had no knowledge of their distribution. He says it is unreasonable to disqualify him for something that was beyond his control.”
    “People can photocopy handbills and put them up; it’s just impossible to control completely,” he says in an email. “Right now, I could photocopy somebody’s posters, put them somewhere and report them.”

    This decision will hinge on whether Beale was or was not responsible for the actions of this individual.

    The rules say “candidates shall be responsible for the actions of their campaign workers”, and define campaign workers as “a person who has been asked by a candidate and has agreed to assist that candidate with campaigning in any capacity.”

    It’s important to note that the example given by Beale, though dramatic and concerning, absolutely could not happen. Candidates can’t be held responsible for the actions of random people; it is only once they ask someone to help them and that person agrees that they are responsible. The rules were written this way specifically to clarify this issue and (for example) prevent a Clark supporter from post-campaigning on behalf of Beale to get Beale disqualified. Under this rule, Beale cannot be held responsible if a supporter starts campaigning on their own initiative, though it would not be wise to test this rule: the Elections Committee can toss the results of the election if they believe there was undue influence, even if they don’t hold specific individuals accountable.

    Whether Beale knew every action of the campaign worker is also not a factor; once he asks them for help with the campaign and they agree, he is responsible for informing them and guiding their actions. In fact, the winner of the presidential election in 2004 was disqualified by the Judicial Board due to the actions of a campaign worker that he had no knowledge of despite evidence that he had done his due diligence in informing and encouraging his campaign workers to abide by all of the rules.

    The issue of whether the person was registered or not is not definitive; the definition of a campaign worker does not require registration. While clearly a registered volunteer is undeniably a campaign worker, someone who is not registered could still be considered a campaign worker.

    To repeal the fines (and uphold the appeal), the Elections Committee will need to be convinced that Beale did not ask this individual to assist them with campaigning in any capacity.

  4. February 23rd, 2012 at 19:43 | #4

    As far as for the DSU footage in Jamie’s video (Which I still haven’t seen :O ) I know I had asked the CRO about using event photos in my posters that had come from events the DSU did. I was told that if the photographer had been commissioned by the DSU this constituted a DSU resource whether or not you had the permission of that photographer.

    I get what Jamie is saying but even if the DSU didn’t pay said photographer/videographer one can also make the argument that without explicit permission from the DSU they would not have been inside the building at ticketed events taking the footage.

    It’s one of those grey areas which is why I stayed clear of it, even though I had event photos I took I only had access to the events based on the fact I was a DSU employee.

    I do think the rules especially revolving around digital media and online campaigning need to be revised. My argument would be have a campaigning start and then the end is when the voting is done and this would get rid of a lot of the problems.

  5. February 23rd, 2012 at 20:07 | #5

    Arron

    Charge: pre-campaigning website
    Defense:

    In regards to the charges of pre-campaigning, Arron says his campaign website, which was active before the campaign period began, was not promoted in any way and “could not have influenced voters.”

    I have sympathy for this argument; it’s tough to be fined for something you don’t think affected voters. Unfortunately the Constitution does not have similar sympathy; it says nothing about the audience, but does specifically prohibit the mere act of posting the material: “all forms of advertising by any campus medium, or the distribution and/or posting of any material designed and/or likely to influence voters, or speeches, and public forums, shall not take place prior to the campaign period.”

    I believe this is because it is impossible to tell how many voters were affected by an action; where do you draw the line? If voters see the infraction? If voters believe the infraction? If voters are influenced by the infraction? For the rules to be enforceable, they must govern the actions of candidates, not the perceptions of voters. That said, for certain things – like websites – how many voters saw the information may be more measurable. I see Arron is using Google Analytics – I hope he thought to include a detailed list of anyone who visited his site before the campaigning period. There is a “spirit of the law” argument to be made here, though the Judicial Board generally feels more freedom to listen to such arguments than the Elections Committee. By the letter of the law, there’s not much wiggle room.

    The question will come down to how willing the Elections Committee is to step outside the letter of the law.

    Charge: using DSU video footage
    Defence:

    To answer the charges for using the DSU video footage, Arron says the footage actually belonged to an independent director from whom he received permission to use the footage.

    The relevant rule is “the use of Union or University facilities not available to all candidates and campaigns is forbidden”. The question for this rule is whether this footage was available to all candidates and campaigns. I actually see ownership as secondary: I’d say if he had access to it because of his job, it’s forbidden. If he had access to it because it’s a private video and it was supplied to him as a campaign resource, then the question is assessing the value of that footage and determining if it exceeds the limits (as Ben Wedge notes above). How much the DSU paid the videographer to use the footage would be a reasonable number.

    Aside: The purpose of the rule is to prevent an “insider” from using resources they uniquely have access to. One could argue that since both people in the race are DSU Executives, they have equal access to resources, and by the spirit of the rules there was no violation.

    Charge: not complying with video removal order
    Defence: The separate issue of where he was asked & agreed to remove his video and did not comply is not addressed in the Gazette article, though you could argue that if the video was legal all along then the order to remove it was not valid.

    Charge: soliciting in residence
    Defence:

    In terms of his soliciting in residences, Arron says there is no place in the DSU’s constitution where it indicates that such practices are against the rules. The DSU official statement regarding the disqualifications only says that soliciting for any purpose in residences is against university policy.

    An interesting argument; essentially saying “hey, there’s no such rule”. Indeed, it is never clearly spelled out in the Constitution that Thou Shalt Not Campaign In Residence. However, it is clear from the Act of Incorporation that the Constitution and DSU rules in general are subordinate
    to university policies and federal/provincial/municipal laws. Just because the Constitution doesn’t say it’s illegal to kill your opponent and hide the body, doesn’t mean it should be allowed. But at the same time, is the Elections Committee responsible for preventing and prosecuting murders during an election?

    The committee has broad discretion to levy fines, invalidate elections results, and disqualify candidates for cases where the offence and fine are not specifically laid out in the constitution, but where they believe it violated the principles of a fair election. For example, hacking into the voting servers and fiddling with the votes is not listed as an offence in the Constitution, but be assured it would render the election invalid.

    So some of the questions the Committee will consider are:
    – are they the right group to enforce this rule?
    – did the violation of the rule give Arron an unfair advantage?
    – should Arron have known about this rule?

    If the answer to any one of those questions is Yes, I imagine the appeal will be denied.

    Charge: Post-campaigning on Facebook
    Defence:

    Finally, Arron says he can repeal the charges for post-campaigning as they are largely subjective. … He says the wording of this post does not necessarily indicate campaigning.

    This will come down to a revised interpretation of “The DSU is at a crossroads. Will you vote for the same ol’ insiders or for the new wave of engagement? Times are a’changing. Lets make it happen” and “Did you vote in DSU elections yet? only takes 2min. Vote online @ dsuelections.ca. My dream team: Becky, Gavin, Aaron B. Tell yo’ friends.”

    It should be noted that candidates are expressly permitted to encourage students to vote using their personal Facebook pages (so his status would be covered but messages written on the Walls of others would not be); the question is whether his encouragement to vote crosses the line to campaigning.

    The question here: Is the committee willing to reconsider their determination of those messages as campaigning?

  6. February 23rd, 2012 at 20:15 | #6

    @Andrew Sykes
    I do think the rules especially revolving around digital media and online campaigning need to be revised. My argument would be have a campaigning start and then the end is when the voting is done and this would get rid of a lot of the problems.

    I’ve been suggesting something like that since at least 2008. :) The other argument – aside from avoiding post-campaigning issues – is it may help increase voter turnout.

    There has been an increasing, gradual relaxation of these rules over the years, starting from 2001 when online campaigning was banned entirely until today, where websites, posters, and Facebook pages can remain up during the campaigning period.

    The challenge is to protect the integrity of the polling booth: since any computer or mobile device is a polling booth, we have to avoid the situation where a candidate watches a voter vote. Any time a candidate can see someone vote you have to worry about the possibility for coercion.

    Of course some of the post-campaigning rules are simply to make candidates clean up after themselves, so the campus isn’t littered with handbills, chalk, and posters for weeks after the election. :)

  7. JP
    February 23rd, 2012 at 21:10 | #7

    I feel like the EC used up their bending of the rules for Arron when they didn’t make him pass in waivers for everyone in his video, when they didn’t make him include the professional videographer’s fees in his budget, when he didn’t get a fine for having a facebook event even after the CRO told all candidates that it was not allowed. twice. And who knows what else. How much more does he expect to get away with. It seems like most other candidates were able to act fully within the rules – why does Arron believe he should be allowed special privileges. So democracy is good, but only when it favours Arron himself. Glad I got that straight.

  8. February 23rd, 2012 at 23:27 | #8

    The cost paid for Arron’s promo video footage is pure speculation. Richard Clark had the snaziest videos of all, and yet no charges against him? The pundits conjecture about the price of Arron’s video, but it looked like it was done in someone’s basement. Meanwhile, Clark’s videos looked like they were produced by the pmo.

  9. February 23rd, 2012 at 23:43 | #9

    Indeed – in fact, my comments were explicitly labelled speculation. By me. I speculated. Of course it would be unreasonable to charge Arron financially for 2 seconds of video, especially at the full price the DSU paid. Just fun to think about.

    For what it’s worth, I actually thought Arron had an excellent video. Perhaps not as polished as Clark or NSPIRG, but I thought he really came across as sincere and gave an excellent accounting of his record.

  10. February 24th, 2012 at 00:05 | #10

    I never watched the Arron’s video. But I always did wonder who did Clark’s video, and of course I wondered about NSPIRG’s. Cause that one blew my mind, but I guess it was a favour? So I guess Clarks would’ve been a favour too, I’m assuming. But then again, assuming only makes an ass of me and you.

    I feel like if the Elections Committee was smart they would leave everything in place and just let it go to the Judicial Board. I feel like there is a lot of down to the letter stuff that might just be over the EC’s head, no offense to them. I dunno. I think I would rather let it go to the JB because the whole “this could be viewed like this” stuff would scare the crap out of me.

    But that’s just my own two cents garnered from the speculation on how the appeals might be perceived, on here.

  11. Ryan
    February 24th, 2012 at 00:52 | #11

    Anyone know if, theoretically, an appeal to the EC is granted would there be an opportunity for another candidate (or even a random student) to appeal the overturning to the JB? This would only seem fair but I could see it not being possible — similar to how a faculty member cannot appeal an overturning of a disciplinary measure they laid against a student.

  12. February 24th, 2012 at 00:54 | #12

    @Ryan

    Any member of the Union can file an appeal with the JB.

    For example, in 2004, the runner-up in the presidential race filed an appeal with the JB because the Elections Committee did *not* fine the candidate. The appeal was upheld, the winner disqualified, and the runner-up appointed president.

  13. JP
    February 24th, 2012 at 01:10 | #13

    @Bobby D

    I’m not sure if the cost is speculation. If the footage was in fact taken by someone the DSU hired, then there is moat certainly a record of the payment.

  14. Andrew Sykes
    February 24th, 2012 at 07:34 | #14

    @JP

    There would certainly be a record for payment however it then becomes an argument of if it wasn’t paid for what was the agreement. My interpretation of the rules as they were explained to me is even if the DSU staff took the photos theyre DSU property or a DSU resource.

  15. Ed
    February 24th, 2012 at 08:03 | #15

    @Mike Smit
    For a student to appeal to the judicial board about a potential fine that wasn’t given would the student need to appeal to the election committee first?

  16. Henry
    February 24th, 2012 at 08:22 | #16

    Gazette had an interesting read there, although, if you check on Jamie’s Twitter and the Article, it would appear that he was misinterpreted. Which is a shame due to the fact, most of us want to know what the hell is ACTUALLY going on with this DQ process.

    I really hope that the EC and JB can sort this mess out quickly, whichever way the decision goes, so that the new exec. (Whoever they may be in the end…) can get their act together.

    FYI, here’s the comment from the Gazette article by Jamie, hopefully this will get both sides of the story out in the open.

    “This is Jamie here. I want to note that I specifically said to the author that “the raw facts regarding my specific appeals are most important to highlight; the smear stuff is a secondary afterthought” (although it most certainly did exist). I don’t feel this story has accurately captured what I said or what the approach is to my appeals.”

    - – -

    Side note: Whether or not you like, support or give a shit about the appeals by Beale and Arron, remember these are students who actually put themselves out there to TRY and win an election. Not even has the guts to do it and it’s not easy, so however this goes down, kudos to them for at least running and trying to make a difference with an indifferent student population.

  17. JP
    February 24th, 2012 at 09:39 | #17

    Just heard from someone who attended Candidates’ Cafe this year — apparently the CRO explitcitly told candidates to read the constitution; not knowing the rules is not an adequate defence. Well, the constitution is subordinate to uni policies/govt laws sooooo the EC warned candidates – break the rules and we will come down on you. Breaking uni policy is breaking the rules, Arron.

  18. February 24th, 2012 at 11:44 | #18

    @Henry

    I did include a link to Arron’s Twitter in the original post for that reason. I didn’t see the note that he actually thinks his appeal was not reported on accurately, thanks for the heads-up on that. I too would like more information, which is why I offered to publish all of his raw facts in full. No response yet.

    Though in the Gazette’s defence, “smear campaign!” is a way more interesting headline than “appeal filed”. Once you give information to a reporter, or anyone, you do lose control of how it is presented…

    You definitely speak the truth when you say all candidates should be respected for their interest and motivation and strong campaigns.

  19. KD
    February 24th, 2012 at 18:44 | #19

    So let me get this straight- First Jamie attacks engaged students who ask questions at debates, then he attacks his fellow candidates who have devoted most of their student lives to the DSU with his ‘voters guide’, then he attacks punditry, run by a group of student and alumni volunteers who spent most of their time at Dal being heavily involved in the DSU, and now he is attacking the Gazette, our student run newspaper. Who’s next!?!

    Is this how he engages students?

  20. Henry
    February 25th, 2012 at 01:52 | #20

    @Mike Smit
    Further, whatever happens with these appeals one of two outcomes are certain:

    a. Appeals are turned down, the exec will be hounded with reminders all year of the fact ‘they only won 40% of the vote’ and that the ‘insiders’ have caused the ‘candidates of change’ to lose.

    b. Appeals are successful, meaning it’s open season of saying ‘fuck you’ to the constitution of the DSU and any rules currently followed. Essentially, if you break enough rules and keep doing it, you’ll win in the end.

    - – - -

    Which one is your money on?

  21. February 25th, 2012 at 10:58 | #21

    You know my money is on B.

    I think the appeals will win through and this year will be a shit show, but I think it’s only going to be one, not both of them. Jamie is really close, he only needs one of his things appealed to be able to take office. Aaron isn’t. However, if Aaron is able to appeal the major one, the pamphlets, then it’s possible it will be a B overall.

    So either way it will most likely be a combo of A and B, and if that is the case there will be a great deal of tug and pull on the exec. I think the interesting element here is Aaron Wolf. He really didn’t belong to either ‘camp’ and won. So it will be interesting what he does if this tug and pull scenario occurs constantly.

    Regardless I don’t want to be anywhere near the exec next year.

    P.S. I know that question was more directed at Mike but I couldn’t help throw down my two cents.

  22. February 25th, 2012 at 12:45 | #22

    @Henry

    I fear I must argue the premise of option (b). If the outcome of all of this is Mr. Arron is re-instated, I will actually view that as the system working and an indication that he did not break the rules to the point that disqualification was warranted. I would suggest something more in line with (a), which talks about the public perception instead. Perhaps:

    b. Appeals are successful, the exec will be hounded all year by people charging that it’s open season of saying ‘fuck you’ to the constitution of the DSU and any rules currently followed. They’ll say that if you break enough rules and keep doing it, you’ll win in the end.

    My money is on (a) across the board, but I managed to be wrong in both 2004 and 2005 (once thinking the JB would be more lenient than they were, and once thinking they would be more strict). I’ve had no direct communication with anyone involved in this appeal.

  23. February 25th, 2012 at 12:53 | #23

    @Ed

    Sorry I missed your earlier question… the decision of the Elections Committee on this appeal can be appealed to the J.B. by any student. If the decision is to re-instate Mr. Arron, then the appeal of that decision could certainly include evidence of other offences that the appellant believes should have been fined.

    A prior ruling by the J.B. stated that because they are bound to follow the principles of administrative law, they can review whatever evidence and information they damn well please to ensure a fair hearing. That of course is a paraphrase; here is a paragraph from the relevant decision [E.E. vs E.C., 2005]:

    The Elections Committee is a body that is charged with extensive administrative responsibilities in handling elections under the DSU Constitution, and are required to make a multitude of decisions on a day-to-day basis. If an individual takes issue with one of these decisions, they may appeal that decision to the Judicial Board. It may be very difficult for the Elections Committee to ensure that procedural fairness is ensured in all situations. However, if they do not, then the Judicial Board must. As a result, the Judicial Board may in this case validly accept fresh evidence due to the lack of procedural safeguards at the Committee decision making level, and may with such evidence determine the correctness of the Elections Committee decisions on both issues of law and fact.

    The principle is this: the JB is bound by a general provision to protect procedural fairness in line with the Constitution, while the Elections Committee is bound to follow the Constitution. If, due to time limits or the process the E.C. is mandated to follow, the appellant is not afforded procedural fairness at the E.C. level, the JB must ensure that procedural fairness themselves. In the 2005 case, this included accepting fresh evidence even if that information was not available to the E.C. when their decision was made. My view is the exact same line of reasoning would lead to the same decision in future cases.

  24. February 29th, 2012 at 13:04 | #24

    “The candidate was fined $20 for door knocking in Shirreff Hall, which is against
    University policy, and $20 for failing to remove chalk from walls before the
    assigned deadline of 8PM on Tuesday, February 14th. These fines were levied
    based on Section 8, Article 12(d)(viii)(e).”

    -Does anyone know what chalk, on what walls, the EC is referring to? Who noticed the chalk, and who reported the incident?

  25. February 29th, 2012 at 14:01 | #25

    They’re referring to the chalk on the sidewalks. I know we were told CLEARLY to have it removed by 8pm on the last day of campaigning. I saw a few candidates washing it off the next morning but I have no idea who’d have reported that. I’m assuming they must have had pictures of something to prove it was still there.

  26. February 29th, 2012 at 14:07 | #26

    The rules document from the website lists the removal deadline as 8pm on the first day of voting.

    1. Candidates are permitted to chalk any of the sidewalks on campus with the exception of the area in front of the Killam Library.
    a. Chalk must be removed by 8:00 PM on Tuesday, February 14.

    It’s possible no one reported the incident – the E.C. is allowed to lay charges even in the absence of a complaint.

    Some complainants also submit their complaints via the punditry.ca tipline so the Fifth Estate is aware of the infractions as well, but that did not happen in this instance.

  27. February 29th, 2012 at 14:08 | #27

    hmm, interesting. There is a big difference between walls and sidewalks. There was no reference to where it happened, and I’m just trying to get more facts straight. The official EC statement definitely says “walls” and not “sidewalks”.

  28. February 29th, 2012 at 14:21 | #28

    Hmm, according to Jamie’s appeals, no contract was signed between the DSU and the directors of both pieces of footage. Basic copyright law stipulates that the artist is the sole proprietor of their work’s copyright, unless they explicitly sign it away to someone. Use of the footage in his video is not ‘DSU resources’, since the DSU does not own the original work, even if they did pay for it’s commission.

    Also, it could be argued that a 4 second clip is ‘fair dealings’, i.e. an excerpt, and therefore not a violation of copyright.

    And as a final argument, my ex-law student / musician friend has told me, even if a ‘potential value’ was to be inferred onto those 4 seconds of video, it would have to be an amount that correlates to it’s relative size vis-a-vis the original work. So therefore, if the video was 4 minutes long and the DSU paid $500, then a 4 second clip would be valued at $5.33 (math don’t fail me now!)

  29. February 29th, 2012 at 14:25 | #29

    @Mike Smit

    If the EC did not receive a complaint regarding the chalk, and the EC laid the charge, then they’ll have to show their evidence to the JB when the time comes.

  30. UV
    February 29th, 2012 at 14:48 | #30

    @David The larger issue is that Jamie completely ignored the ruling of the EC and did not remove the footage. He did not remove it for a week. It is therefore reasonable that this footage influenced voters.

    My guess is Jamie was betting some fines are an acceptable risk. Normally, an acceptable risk but this EC was extremely strict on all sides. I have been told that some of the winners have also received fines since the election night. The EC has to given a ton of credit for their courage to call a fair election.

    I simply don’t buy the fair dealings argument. It is utterly irrelevant. Furthermore, Jamie obtained this footage because of his current position. Arguing otherwise is pure semantics.

    I believe Jamie has a good chance of overturing the facebook fine for the post about electing insiders.

    I think Jamie did a great job as VPSL. He also make a persuasive defense on his website. The rules must remain the rules as all candidates agreed to them. It cannot simply be of question of the degree of the infraction.

    Beale on the other hand, has an uphill battle. He is way over the limit. Yes, due to a large fine, but there were more infractions that I don’t see reported in the EC statement. Given how hard he worked, I didn’t report them but I’m sure someone did. Beale’s infractions are far harder to defend. He could try claiming “no knowledge” of the offending material. However, if this claim stands no one will ever take responsibility for their campaign, campaign workers or actions in the future.

    That said, Beale ran an extremely impressive campaign. I’d say he was the greatest underdog story in recent memory. He probably could have pulled victory off without the blatant cheating.

  31. February 29th, 2012 at 15:05 | #31

    @David

    I would imagine the EC will show their evidence to the candidate if he asks well before reaching the JB, so that he can mount an appeal.

    @UV

    I agree that the ownership issue is secondary and copyright is completely irrelevant. For instance, the DSU does not own the SUB, but an executive using their position to get special access to SUB facilities would be unacceptable as it is clearly a DSU resource. Ownership is irrelevant. The true test is did he make use of unfair access to DSU resources due to his position. As Mr Arron is constantly complaining about insiders (using both truth and fiction), I would expect him to be especially concerned with upholding this rule. We simply cannot have an incumbent executive using their position to gain an advantage. If he didn’t have unfair access, than there’s no problem.

    I think some of the fines may be overturnable depending on how the JB rules, but for what it’s worth the appeals posted to his website are terrible on several levels. I hope for his sake he dramatically rewrites them before submitting them to the JB, if that step is necessary.

  32. February 29th, 2012 at 15:20 | #32

    It’s an interesting debate, and I look forward to hearing the outcome.

    @UV @Mike Smit

    Copyright law is relevant insofar as the DSU elections fall under the authority of Canadian law. The DSU can’t claim an artistic work as their resource, unless specified as such in a contract signed by the original copyright owner, i.e. the artists themselves. The fact that the DSU paid for the production of the work doesn’t mean it’s theirs; it still belongs to the artist.

    There’s only one true test to see if the video footage was in fact an unfair advantage due to Jamie’s position as a DSU exec, and that is to see if the owners of the video would have agreed to allow the other candidates to also use their footage in their campaign video.

    At this point in time, it’s impossible to know what the artist WOULD have done, we can only know what they tell us now. Although that’s not equivalent, it’s as close as we’ll ever get.

    And since Arron’s opponent was also a DSU exec, one can’t say that Jamie’s position prima facie entitles him to more privilege and access to DSU materials, since his opponent technically occupies the same position (i.e. they’re both VPs) and therefore has the same DSU privileges.

  33. February 29th, 2012 at 15:28 | #33

    This one’s interesting too:

    “On Wednesday, February 15th the Elections Committee received a phone call
    from a student in Risley Hall who had witnessed the candidate in question and
    another candidate tailgate into residence and solicit students for their votes in the
    hallways of the locked area of the building on Sunday, February 12th. Solicitation
    in residence is against University policy, and for this reason, the Elections
    Committee decided to levy a fine of $20 against both the candidate in question
    and the other candidate.”

    This is one of two charges against the disqualified candidates that cite ‘University Policy’ but no specific document or sub-section. I commend the EC on a doing a tough job, but for the purposes of these appeals, it’ll be important to know what section of university policy was violated.

    According to Arron’s appeal, he wasn’t soliciting. If soliciting is defined as knocking on doors and passing notes under doors, then apparently that’s not what he was doing. Talking to people in halls: is that soliciting? Apparently it’s common practice (and not a violation of elections policy or constitution) to campaign in residences. So what’s the difference between campaigning and soliciting?

    Questions, questions! Looking forward to your answers, punditry.ca.

  34. February 29th, 2012 at 16:00 | #34

    @David

    I believe you misunderstand me. I don’t disagree that copyright law would apply if the issue of ownership were important, however what matters is not that the DSU owns the resource, but rather that it is available to or through the DSU. Examples:
    – the infodesk staff: clearly a DSU resource. The DSU does not own these individuals, but because it hires and compensates them, it’s a DSU resource
    – the SUB: clearly a DSU resource. The DSU does not own the building, but operates it under an agreement with the university.

    I have personally concluded that the videos, produced with the DSU and funded in part by them, and used under agreement by the DSU in exchange for compensation to the producer, and posted to DSU websites in support of DSU initiatives, are fundamentally a DSU resource.

    The argument Mr. Arron should be focusing on is that the videos were posted to public websites, and anyone could have contacted the owner to use them. I have a lot of sympathy for that argument. My problem is I absolutely cannot find the videos anywhere but on DSU web properties. If only a sitting executive was in position to know the ownership structure, to realize that they aren’t owned by the DSU and who to contact, I would conclude it’s still an unfair advantage.

    I know there is ambiguity there, and that in all probability Mr. Arron had no intention of violating a rule when he put together his video. However, my personal inclination when there is ambiguity is to choose an interpretation that best upholds establishing a fair and even playing field for all candidates.

    Full disclosure of bias: I’m also aware that Mr. Arron took a photo from the Dal Gazette website (taken by a Dal Gazette photographer), cropped out the Gazette logo, and used it on his website. Perhaps this is diminishing my sympathy for the ownership/copyright argument.

    Aside: The opposing candidate is irrelevant, in my mind. If Ms. Bouchard used her position to gain special access to secret ANSSA documents for use in her campaign, I would believe she too should be fined.

  35. February 29th, 2012 at 16:34 | #35

    @David

    Contrary to what some may be saying, there is no punditry.ca hive mind; I can only speak for myself when I say that those are good questions. I asked a bunch of similar questions in my earlier discussion on the appeals. Let’s try one-by-one.

    - Is soliciting against University policy?

    This is the only one for which I have a clear answer: Yes. The Community Standards Guides expects residences to report any incidents of soliciting. The residences have a clear interest in keeping people from going door-to-door trying to sell something.

    I wish it were allowed, it would be nice if there were better options for getting residence students to vote in the DSU Elections. Of course, it’s not clear that 16 candidates knocking on their bedroom door would be *helpful* to the cause. :)

    - Should Mr. Arron have known that soliciting was illegal?

    This no-soliciting policy is not posted online anywhere that I could find, other than the reference to the rule in the Community Standards Guide (formerly known as the Residence Handbook). I don’t know if there are signs; I don’t remember seeing any but I may be wrong. It is not covered explicitly in the elections regulations.

    On the other hand, he was invited there by Risley Council, presumably they should know that soliciting is not permitted. Again, however, the rules for residents are different from the rules for non-residents; the Council is given privileges not available to any solicitor from off the streets.

    - Was it soliciting?

    According to the appeal Mr. Arron filed, he was going door-to-door and writing on the whiteboards that are on the doors of residence rooms. This is clearly not the same as going door-to-door and knocking (though if I were in a residence room and heard someone writing on my whiteboard, I’d probably open the door to see who it was). I’d expand this into other questions:
    – is talking to the resident a necessary component of soliciting? Or can you solicit by non-verbal means?
    – what if he had gone through the residence sliding handbills under doors? Would that be soliciting?
    – what if a Pepsi marketer went door to door and wrote “Refresh Everything.com” on the whiteboards? Would that be soliciting?

    Judging by my own personal answers to those questions, I’d have to conclude that it was soliciting. However, the real authority on the matter is whoever is in charge of enforcing residence policy. Someone should ask them to weigh in.

    - Is it permitted because it was done with the blessing of Risley Council?

    Res Councils have pretty broad latitude within the residences. Though certainly the Pepsi marketing situation would not be allowed with or without their blessing, the DSU candidate situation is arguably different. Their endorsement might get him out of the solicitation charge.

    - Does this support from a DSU Society violate a different rule?

    The question is would they have supported every candidate who wants to do this. In their letter, they do claim the answer is yes. But let’s be honest: if next year 20 DSU Elections Candidates make the circuits of Risley, the answer will be very different. Right? If not, then I think the DSU should work with Risley Council right now to make sure this is permitted to happen next year.

    I think there are grounds here to overturn the soliciting charge, I really do. I just don’t see how you can do that and not start asking questions about the use of society resources problem. His appeal does a good job of skirting the issue, and he owes Risley Council big time for being willing to say they’d let in anyone who wanted to show up. If they can convince the JB that claim is sincere, ideally by backing an official DSU candidate residence solicitation policy, Mr. Arron is homefree.

  36. UV
    February 29th, 2012 at 20:21 | #36

    On a more practical note, do we know if the EC have met to discuss the final round of fines and appeals or when this is happening?

  37. February 29th, 2012 at 21:01 | #37

    On the video note… The $500 math while correct is not applicable in this situation. I was told explicitly that using any resources that my company owned would be billed at “Fair Market Value” irrelevant of the cost to me. With this said the same would apply to the video the price for the 4 seconds of video would be based on fair market value and not what the DSU paid to use it.

  38. estrin
    February 29th, 2012 at 21:16 | #38

    Someone asking about chalk on the sidewalk/walls. I have no idea what the walls are referring to. What I do is that chalk on Beale’s part, was left on the sidewalk outside of the CS building and was still clearly visible. Although I don’t know if it was removed, they could be referring to the chalk that was put up on the columns of the Mona Campbell building. I don’t know if that was left there though because I didn’t see it.
    I didn’t report any of that though, and I have no idea who did.

  39. Henry
    March 1st, 2012 at 09:50 | #39

    @Mike Smit
    “- Is it permitted because it was done with the blessing of Risley Council?
    Res Councils have pretty broad latitude within the residences. Though certainly the Pepsi marketing situation would not be allowed with or without their blessing, the DSU candidate situation is arguably different. Their endorsement might get him out of the solicitation charge.”

    Yes.

    Residence Council’s DO NOT have the right to bring whoever they want into their buildings, it comes down to Residence Life and the RLM of each building. I WOULD however hazard a guess, knowing the council at Risley, that they would have talked to their RLM and that she would be very aware of this going on at the Residence prior.

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