Interpretations and Rulings

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This page contains a series of rulings and interpretations by the Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer. Please view each section below to see what decisions have been made during the election process to this point.
 

Rulings

Complaint Regarding Manifesto of Usama Anwar

Time of Ruling: 24/02/2021 11:20
Announcement

The original complaints are concerning the manifesto of Usama Anwar, both claim that Usama has not held all of the positions that are claimed in the manifesto.

The contested section reads:

“For the last 3 years as a faculty advocate, student advocate, treasurer, and society president”

The complainants claim that the statement is deliberately misleading voters.

After checking records on the SU website the DRO is satisfied  that Usama’s manifesto is an accurate record of roles he has held in the SU, and there is therefore no further action required.

Appeal Deadline: 24/02/2021 14:00

 

Complaint Regarding Social Media Posts of Zahra Chouty, Usama Anwar, and Ezmeer Ali

Time of Ruling: 23/02/2021 12:16
Announcement

The DRO received three complaints concerning a video posted to Zahra, Usama, and Ezmeer’s social media pages. The complaints also included a screen recording of the video.

The complainants felt that the video:

  • “violates the basic rule of voting confidentiality and is a serious offense[sic]”
  • “I believe this violates the election regulations and SU bye-law as it contains confidential information of an account”.
  • “I have noticed that a new vision slate has posted the voting procedure as screen recording. In which they have explicitly shown partial voting behaviour”

The DRO reviewed the evidence supplied and consulted the Returning Officer for their advice. The DRO felt that the post shows voters how simple the voting process is once they log in to our voting portal, there is no issue with the bias it shows as that is implied anyway due to the fact that they are running in the election. The only issue raised is that the post appears to promote voting as more of a First Past The Post process, rather than empowering the voter to take advantage of AV.

The RO agreed with the DRO and the following decisions have been made:

  • There is no breach of elections regulations with regards to the post, and therefore the complaints made have all been rejected.
  • The RO and DRO request that the original post is removed, and any alternative post contains information about Alternative Transferrable Voting, ensuring that voters viewing the post understand that they can list candidates by order of preference, rather than just voting “1” for their favourite.
Appeal Deadline: 24/02/2021 14:00

 

Complaint Regarding Social Media Posts of Simi Chacko

Time of Ruling: 22/02/2021 08:45
Announcement

The DRO received a complaint which alleged that Simi Chacko posted a video to the cover of their VP (Education) campaign page which was created by Study UK- British Council. The complainant raised two issues with the post:

  • The complainant claims that this page is used to promote the University of Northampton to international students and therefore feels that the candidate is using University resources to campaign.
  • The complaint also mentions that the video contains “restricted logos” of UON, UNSU and its associated clubs and societies.

The DRO has reviewed the evidence supplied and made the following decisions regarding this complaint:

  1. Use of UoN resources

It is the DRO’s understanding that the Study UK is a British Council led campaign to promote higher education across the whole of the UK. It is therefore not a use of University of Northampton’s resources. Furthermore, the video contains no mention of Simi Chacko’s campaign so this complaint is invalid.

  1. Video contains “restricted logos”

The logos in the video are part of the filming of the video in the Learning Hub on Waterside Campus. It is the opinion of the DRO that the use of the logos does not attempt to show any association with any of the organisations featured.

As a result, no further action is required following this investigation

Appeal Deadline: 24/02/2021 08:45

 

Non-Attendance of Vishnu Sudarsan at Candidate Brieifing

Time of Ruling: 20/02/2021 13:40
Announcement

Vishnu failed to attend the compulsory Candidate Question time event which was announced at both Candidate Briefings as well as being on the key dates page on the Candidate Information section of the SU website. Candidates were also emailed a direct invite to become a panellist on the Zoom Webinar session that was due to be broadcast at 6pm on 18/02/2020 via Facebook Live.

Vishnu failed to attend the session as required.

In accordance with decisions in previous processes and with what was explained to Candidates during the briefing, it is the decision of the DRO to withdraw Vishnu’s nomination for the position of Vice-President (Welfare and Activities).

Appeal Deadline: 22/02/2021 07:00

 

Complaint Regarding James Flynn Campaigning on University Social Media Pages

Time of Ruling: 19/02/2021 14:48
Announcement

A complaint was received regarding a post on the UoN 2020 Students group on Facebook made by James Flynn. The DRO announced this rule on 10th February via the Rulings Page and made candidates aware of that page via an email to candidates.

There has been a clear breach of the “no campaigning on university-owned social media pages” rule. As a result, the following sanctions will apply:

  • James will be banned from all forms of campaigning for 24 hours, beginning at 00:00 on 20th February and ending at 23:59 on 20th February. This includes:
    • Face-to-face campaigning
    • Any new posts on social media
    • Responding to any queries regarding their campaign
    • Any other activity which may be reasonably considered campaigning activity.
  • Jamesis to be issued with a written warning with regards their campaigning conduct.
Appeal Deadline: 21/02/2021 14:48

 

Complaint Regarding Simi Chacko Campaigning in Lecture

Time of Ruling: 19/02/2021 14:28
Announcement

A complaint was received regarding a video appearing to show Simi Chacko campaigning to a lecture of UoN students, something which is prohibited and was communicated at the Candidate Briefings.

Having reviewed the evidence the DRO feels that the following needs to be taken into account:

  • There is clear evidence that Simi Chacko has spoken to a group of students which have gathered as part of course content.
  • The transcript shows that there is a clear campaign message to the content of the video, and their was an attempt to canvass for votes.
  • The session was organised by a University academic for the cohort of a specific course and would therefore by all reasonable assumptions be considered either a lecture or academic contact.
  • The invite from the tutor to speak does not excuse the rule-break
  • Any introduction from the tutor stating Simi was a candidate would not be reason for the speech then given by Simi which is against election rules.
  • It can be assumed from the speech that a follow-up link was also sent to attendees.

There has been a clear breach of the “no campaigning in lectures or during academic contact” rule. As a result, the following sanctions will apply:

  • Simi will be banned from all forms of campaigning for 48 hours, beginning at 00:00 on 20th February and ending at 23:59 on 21st February. This includes:
    • Face-to-face campaigning
    • Any new posts on social media
    • Responding to any queries regarding their campaign
    • Any other activity which may be reasonably considered campaigning activity.
  • Simi is to be issued with a final written warning with regards their campaigning conduct.
Appeal Deadline: 21/02/2021 14:28

 

Sarath Gopi Appeal of Decision Made Regarding Complaint 1109- C

Time of Ruling: 19/02/2021 09:07
Announcement

The following sanctions were applied to Sarath Gopi as a result of Complaint 1109- C:

  • Sarath asked to consider his tactics and approach for the remainder of the election.
  • Sarath reminded that there is a fine line between campaigning to encourage voting, and inducements to vote.
  • Sarath issued with a written warning regarding the alleged plans for a pre-election party.

Sarath appealed these findings based on the claim that Sarath was not involved and these messages were either fabricated or conducted via a false account.

The Returning Officer has decided to overturn the original decision based on the following facts:

  • The original complainant’s identity cannot be verified, and on the balance of probabilities it can be assumed that they are not a student.
  • Given the doubt cast over the complainant’s student status, the validity of the evidence provided in Appendix 1 has been brought into doubt.

In addition, to prevent such an issue occurring again there must be an alteration to the SU’s investigation procedure. Where a complaint is received from an individual who is not a candidate, the following must occur first:

  • Either their status as a student must be confirmed, or
  • Their position as a valid complainant must be verified.

This is intended to prevent an issue where evidence from a questionable source is used to form a decision.

Appeal Deadline: 21/02/2021 09:07

 

Complaint Regarding Videos Posted Online by Zahra Chouty, Usama Anwar, and Ezmeer Ali

Time of Ruling: 16/02/2021 13:14
Announcement

A complaint was received regarding campaigning by the candidates Zahra Chouthy, Usama Anwar, Ezmeer Ali. The complainant claimed that the candidates have breached both University COVID-19 regulations and the Union’s elections regulations.

There are two issues here which can be viewed separately:

  • Was there a breach of University guidance regarding the use of face masks in university buildings?
  • Did the videos also constitute a breach of elections regulations outlined in the candidate briefing regarding the ban on campaigning in indoor spaces?

It was found that there was a breach of university COVID-19 regulations regarding wearing face-coverings in their buildings.

As a result of the investigation, the Returning Officer has agreed to the following sanctions:

  • A final written warning is issued to the candidates involved with regards to their breach of Covid-19 rules both set by the SU and University. 
  • The videos in question are removed from all platforms within 12 hours of this decision being published.
Appeal Deadline: 18/02/2021 13:14

 

Complaint Regarding a Poster of Vishnu Sudarsan

Time of Ruling: 16/02/2021 08:46
Announcement
A complaint was received regarding a poster released as part of Vishnu Sudarsan's campaign. The image shows Vishnu wearing a UoN badge.
 
Having reviewed the evidence the DRO feels that there is no further action required by the candidate for the following reasons:
  • The candidate briefing did not mention the use of the UoN logo, it only mentioned the banned use of the SU logo and restrictions on using associated club and society logos.
  • The University has a requirement to remain neutral within the elections process. I do not see how the use of this photo compromises their neutral position.
  • It is the DRO’s opinion that the candidate is gaining no direct benefit in the election as a result of the UoN logo in this image.
Appeal Deadline: 18/02/2021 08:46

 

Complaint Regarding the Instagram Campaign Pages of Erin Laste and Nathan McGaughey

Time of Ruling: 15/02/2021 19:42
Announcement
A complaint was received regarding the Instagram Campaign Pages of Erin Laste and Nathan McGaughey. It was claimed that those pages had been used to campaign from before the 8th February, 6pm start time.
 
It has been decided that no action against the candidates is required. The Deputy Returning Officer was aware of the pages, the posts on those pages, and that those pages had no interaction or followers ahead of the candidate briefing. The evidence provided does not prove any wrongdoing.
Appeal Deadline: 17/02/2021 15:19

 

Complaint Regarding Facebook Posts of Zoe Boyer

Time of Ruling: 12/02/2021 15:19
Announcement
A complaint was received regarding Facebook posts in university-owned Facebook group by the candidtes mentioned above, contravening a rule announced on this page on 10/02/2021 13:02. 
 
Following an investigation conducted by the Deputy Returning Officer, it has been decided that no immediate action should be taken against the candidates at this point, as the timescales regarding this issue show no unreasonable action was taken by the candidates, and the effect of those actions will be negligible by the time students can vote between 22nd-24th February.
 
Zoe has been reminded that they should regularly check emails from the DRO and the Rulings page on the SU website to ensure they are up-to-date and compliant with any rule alterations, as well as ensuring any communication from the DRO no longer goes into their junk email folder.
Appeal Deadline: 14/02/2021 15:19

 

Complaint Regarding Candidate Briefing Attendance by Simi Chacko

Time of Ruling: 12/02/2021 13:45
Announcement
A complaint was received regarding the non-attendance of Simi Chacko at the candidate briefing on 09/02/2021.
 
Following an investigation conducted by the Deputy Returning Officer it has been found that there were some significant network outages on campus on the dates immediately preceding and on the dates of the briefings. Whilst Simi only attended part of the briefing, the DRO is satisfied that a significant attempt was made to attend the meeting, and suitable remedial actions have been taken to ensure that Simi can act appropriately as a candidate in the election process.
 
It is therefore the DRO's decision that no further action be taken with this complaint, noting that missing part of the candidate briefing will not suffice as a reason for any misconduct moving forwards. Simi must ensure she is confident with the regulations and contact the DRO if there is any doubt regarding a specific regulation.
Appeal Deadline: 14/02/2021 13:45

 

Complaint Regarding Facebook Posts of Zahra Chouty, Usama Anwar, and Ezmeer Ali

Time of Ruling: 12/02/2021 12:44
Announcement
Two complaints were received regarding Facebook posts in university-owned Facebook group by the candidtes mentioned above, contravening a rule announced on this page on 10/02/2021 13:02. 
 
Following an investigation conducted by the Deputy Returning Officer, it has been decided that no immediate action should be taken against the candidates at this point, as the timescales regarding this issue show no unreasonable action was taken by the candidates, and the effect of those actions will be negligible by the time students can vote between 22nd-24th February.
 
The candidates involved have been reminded that they should regularly check emails from the DRO and the Rulings page on the SU website to ensure they are up-to-date and compliant with any rule alterations.
Appeal Deadline: 14/02/2021 12:44

 

Reinstatement of Oluwaseun Emmanuel Alegbeleye

Time of Ruling: 11/02/2021 10:29
Announcement
Following the announcement of Oluwaseun's removal from the elections process on Wednesday 10th February, an appeal to this ruling was received.
 
The DRO is satisfied that there were significant extenuating circumstances regarding the non-attendance of Oluwaseun, and as such he has been reinstated as a candidate for the position of Postgraduate (Taught) Students' Officer.
Appeal Deadline: 13/02/2021 10:29
 

 

Withdrawal of Thi Yen Hoai

Time of Ruling: 10/02/2021 13:39
Announcement
According to the DRO's records the candidate failed to attend a candidate briefing. It is a requirement for all Executive Committee candidates to attend a candidate briefing.
 
As a result Ithe candidate has been notified of their withdrawal from the elections process and informed of their right to appeal within 48 hours.
Appeal Deadline: 12/02/2021 13:39
 

 

Withdrawal of Oluwaseun Emmanuel Alegbeleye

Time of Ruling: 10/02/2021 13:39
According to the DRO's records the candidate failed to attend a candidate briefing. It is a requirement for all Executive Committee candidates to attend a candidate briefing.
 
As a result Ithe candidate has been notified of their withdrawal from the elections process and informed of their right to appeal within 48 hours.
Appeal Deadline: 12/02/2021 13:39
 

 

Updating Blurb and Contact Details

Time of Ruling: 10/02/2021 13:10
Announcement
Some candidates have been unable to reaccess the Elections Candidate Additional Information Form. Those that have been unable to submit information via that form will have until 9am on Friday 12th Febrary 2021 to submit their blurb and campaign channels. The form is now embedded on the Candidate Resources page: https://northamptonunion.com/make-change/elections/candidate-resources
 
Please email [email protected] if you would like more information or advice on this ruling.
Appeal Deadline: 12/02/2021 13:10
 

 

Video Clips For Full-Time Officers

Time of Ruling: 10/02/2021 12:53
Announcement

There has been some confusion with regards to the required 30 second video clips, and how and when they should be submitted. For clarity, the briefing and questions are below.  Candidates may submit videos by emailing [email protected] by 9am on Friday 12th February 2021. Any versions received after this time will be refused and candidates will be excluded from SU elections promo videos as a result.

"We are producing short social media videos to promote the elections using footage from candidates. For your position could you film yourself clearly answering the following questions via separate video clips of no more than 30 seconds each. Once complete please send those videos to [email protected]

President Candidates

  • What in your opinion makes a great Students' Unon?
  • What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing students today?
  • If you could pick one song that sums you up best, what is it and why?

VP (Education) Candidates

  • What would be first on your to-do list if you were elected?
  • What do you think would improve the learning experience for University of Northampton Students?
  • Who would be top of your guest list at your fantasy dinner party and why?

VP (Welfare & Activities) Candidates

  • What makes you the candidate that people should vote for (i.e. what makes you stand out?)
  • If you could change one thing to improve the student experience, what would it be?
  • If you were Prime Minister for the day, what would you do?

VP (PGR) Candidates

  • Why do you want to be our next VP (PGR)?
  • What do you think PGR students need from you?
  • If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you wish for?
Appeal Deadline: 12/02/2021 12:53
 

 

Candidate Manifestos

Time of Ruling: 10/02/2021 12:40
Announcement
There has been some confusion with regards to manifestos and how long they should be. That regulation has changed this year and they are now capped at 300 words rather than 500 words. The new limit was announced and made available to those nominating, however the application form allowed a limit of 500 words.
 
Because of this technical issue we are permitting candidate to resubmit a shortened manifesto, as some are currently cut short after the 300th word. These amendments must follow the following guidance:
  • Candidates cannot change the "spirit" of their manifesto. I.e. Your main points and general tone must remain the same
  • Candidates can remove parts of their manifesto
  • Candidates can reword parts of their manifesto to shorten it
  • Candidates MAY NOT add new sections to their manifesto

Amended versions must be submitted to [email protected] by 9am on Friday 12th February 2021. Any versions received after this time will be refused and a candidate's original sumbission will be cut off at 300 words.

Appeal Deadline: 12/02/2021 12:40
 

 


Interpretations

 

List of Declared Campaign Slates

Time of Interpretation: 10/02/2021 13:20
Announcement
The following slates have been declared to the Deputy Returning Officer before the 9pm, 09/02/2021 deadline:
 
Slate 1
  • Nathan McGaughey
  • Erin Laste
  • Beth Garrett

Slate 2

  • Zahra Rookia
  • Usama Anwar
  • Ezmeer Ali

Slate 3

  • James Flynn
  • Pratheepkumar V

 

Candidate Sponsorship

Time of Interpretation: 10/02/2021 13:07
Any candidate wishing to source external sponsorship should e-mail [email protected] to request a Partnership Agreement form. This form should have the agreement of yourself, your sponsor and the Deputy Returning Officer before any agreement can commence.

 

Posting in University-Owned Facebook Groups

Time of Interpretation: 10/02/2021 13:02
Announcement
We have received a request from the University stating that no candidates are to post in University-Owned Facebook groups. This is to ensure that these groups are not spammed and can still be used as effective communication tools with current students.
 
The Union will be allowed to post to these groups during the election process and we will be encouraging students to view candidate profiles online, as well as sharing video content as appropriate.
 
Please email [email protected] if you would like more information or advice before posting.

 

Mobile Devices As Polling Stations

Time of Interpretation: 10/02/2021 12:58
Announcement
It is important to both clarify and emphasise the importance that all candidates must ensure that they are leaving a "significant gap" between themselves and people using devices which are capable of accessing the SU website and voting pages when polling is open. It should be clear that you are far enough away that if challenged it is clear that you cannot coerce a student to vote for you in a way that pressures them to do it at that point in your presence.
 
Please email [email protected] if you would like more information or advice on this ruling.

 

Use of Pre-Existing Contact Lists

Time of Interpretation: 10/02/2021 12:28
Announcement
A number of questions were asked at both candidate briefings which requires a single interpretation to be posted for all involved. 
 
As covered in the candidate briefings, and contact lists which have been accumulated to assist with other roles in the Union (Executive Committee, Student Council, Student Groups etc) cannot be contacted en-masse for the purpose of campaigning by individual candidates.
 
This interpretation stops at student groups, and will not extend as far as groups formed on socila media amongst course mates or friends.
 
Please email [email protected] if you would like more information or advice before posting.