“Director of [Mis]Communication and Mobilization”
By: Myriam Glenza and an anonymous collaboration of writers
Jeanne Brabant, candidate for Director of Communications and Mobilization for this year’s DSU election gained 347 votes in her favor this year, which ranks her to the second candidate with the most votes from students. But all of those votes didn’t elect her.
In fact, Brabant was disqualified on the before-last day of voting due to an “infringement of DSU Election Code of Conduct”. Brabant, a member of the Union Representative (UR) Party, was in charge of promoting the party and creating content for the UR Instagram page. Using her past experience in marketing and communications to create engaging and informative content during the campaign season, she amassed over 400 followers within one week. Comparably, the DSU instagram page only exceeds this by a handful of followers despite its activity starting approximately three years ago. Her hard work and determination is evident through her work and its effective results during the campaign season.
The decision to disqualify was based on the rule stating that during voting days, candidates were not allowed to “campaign’’ because it could influence the voters. However, the Dawson Election Commission had told the candidates that they were permitted to “promote voting’’ after the debate held on April 23rd.
The morning after the debate, Brabant posted a video in story on her personal Instagram @thelittletravelingsinger stating: “It was an amazing experience, thank you all for following me during this election and don’t forget to VOTE (you have until Friday)”. The video had originally been recorded by the Dawson Election Commission at the debate. This caused a heated deliberation amongst the Dawson Election Commission and candidates as to what was permitted to post on their personal social media accounts. It is important to note that Brabant’s story was online for approximately thirty minutes before she deleted it prior to the clarifications given about what exactly was considered “campaigning’’. As many had seen on each other’s accounts, a few candidates had posted about their campaign, not known the fact that this was considered campaigning. At that point in time, the Dawson Election Commission made the decision to give a simple warning to all candidates, and to offer a clarification of the rules. An hour later, a candidate’s call for appeal was made to revoke that decision.
By the end of the day April 24th, the appeal commission was formed by two executives of the current DSU and the CEO of the Dawson Election Commission. Their verdict was to disqualify the unopposed candidate, Jeanne Brabant, for the position of Director of Communication and Mobilization. An explanation was given: “The committee believes that Jeanne was promoting herself as a candidate though the post which she posted after the authorized campaign period.”
After a re-appeal of the verdict was called on April 25th, the elections committee and the DSU did not budge in their decision. Jeanne was considered guilty before her trial began. No consideration was taken into finding another way to penalize Brabant without throwing the only candidacy for Director of Communication and Mobilization of the DSU election.
A few minutes after the verdict, a candidate posted a picture of herself with the same message than Brabant’s had made in her “transgressive’’ post. This candidate had done this gesture out of solidarity for Jeanne Brabant. However, the Dawson Election Commission responded :
This double standard leads one to question the unclear meaning of “campaigning’’. Some would say that to call something a campaigning message, it needs to have the intention to influence people’s vote. Some people would say that a candidate commenting or even liking a post in favor of a specific candidate is considered campaigning. There is place for debate and interpretation to whether the candidate who had no opposant to run against was in fact campaigning. That being said, the rule that Brabant broke according to the committee did not contained any specific guidelines and was made even more arbitrary due to the siding permission to “promote voting’’ during the voting process.
So, what was the goal of Brabant’s post : to “campaign for her candidature’’ or to promote voting itself? It seems open to interpretation. Generally speaking, do we condemn people in this country when there is still a reasonable doubt reigning?
The final question is: does the act justify giving the highest possible penalization? Were there alternative ways to handle this situation without throwing all the energy and time she had to offer to the DSU to waste?
To conclude, the DSU, who has historically been accused of stealing money in the past, who has seen certain of their executives resign from their position last year, and who currently has problems with the Dawson College administration involving their financial reports, will now begin the year with one less executive. As it stands at this very moment, this not only has an impact on Jeanne Brabant, but it punishes the DSU executive team for 2019-2020 by letting them operate without an executive to assure the position of Director of Communication and Mobilization. When will the DSU exist for their expected mission: “to offer a stable and proactive union for the common good of students’’? Let’s hope this will be the case of the next year DSU team starting their mandate by the beginning of June.