Photo By: Brock University Students’ Union
Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) has abruptly announced that the elections for BUSU President and Vice-President, External Affairs (VPEA) will be held from April 5 to 7, following the completion of an external investigation into sexual assault and election intereference allegations against candidates in those races.
The public version of the special inquiry report, which can be found here, says that all allegations have been found to be unsubstantiated, and therefore all candidates will be allowed to partake in both elections.
The report states that a total of 34 interviews were conducted throughout the investigation with 23 individuals from BUSU’s student staff, non-student staff, and the broader undergraduate student community. Some folks were interviewed multiple times. The investigation was led by Grace Vaccarelli, a human rights lawyer and workplace investigator with over 20 years of experience.
The report provides some details of the allegations levied against the candidates. Specifically, how the now-former Vice-President, Finance and Administration (VPFA), who was formerly a candidate for President, was accused of engaging in several acts of sexual violence in an anonymous Google Doc released a few days before the election. It also notes that he has previously been adjudicated under Brock’s Student Code of Conduct, but that his behaviour at that time was not considered to be sexual violence as defined in Brock policy. The allegations of sexual violence were deemed unsubstantiated by the investigator. He will not be running for any position in the resumed election.
The current VPEA, as well as the Vice-President, Student Services (VPSS), were both accused of interfering in the executive election by posting the anonymous Google Doc, in an effort to help the VPSS’ campaign for President. This too was deemed to be unsubstantiated by the investigator. They both will be running unopposed in the resumed elections, for VPEA and President respectively.
What the investigation did find, however, was that a group of students who have connections to various members of BUSU’s student staff, as well as elected BUSU governance officials, participated in a smear campaign against the VPFA in an effort to end his candidacy and force him to resign. This created a toxic environment between opposing groups both within and outside of BUSU, which derailed his candidacy for President unjustly, as per the report.
On top of the release of the report, BUSU’s Board of Directors released an action plan detailing measures that will be taken over the next few years to, “improve independent student representation, candidate vetting, transparency, accountability, and training” as per their prepared statement.
Some of the proposed changes include: increasing the size of the Board of Directors to 13 voting student members; removing elected student executives from the board permanently going forward, aside from the BUSU President; changing the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council to become the Brock University Students’ Union Advisory Committee, that will be open to all undergraduate students to freely join; ending BUSU executive elections starting in 2023, replacing them with student-led hiring and appointment processes; creating a comprehensive racism, discrimination, harssment and sexual violence training program that will be mandatory for all BUSU Board of Directors, executives, student senators, and staff starting this year; and recording and posting all meetings of the BUSU Board of Directors starting next month.