By Scott Strasser, May 4 2016 —
The Graduate Students’ Association rounded off their executive team for 2016–17 with a byelection on April 26 at the association’s Graduate Representative Council.
Engineering student Abubaker Abdelhafiz won the position for vice-president academic, while health sciences student Yangyang Fang took vice-president external. The two join acclaimed president Sam Hossack, vice-president student life Adrianne Offenbecker and vice-president finance and services Arash Afshar.
The byelection took place after the March 14-15 GSA election was invalidated due to “minor procedural infractions” from the candidates running for the two unacclaimed positions. Around 500 votes had been cast before the election was annulled.
Abdelhafiz based his platform on openness and sharing of information.
“The GSA does a lot of great work in releasing information and I want to bring some of my experience to help out and try to improve the process,” Abdelhafiz said. “I’d also like to see more students get engaged and involved in GSA work, especially Schulich students and international students — I represent the overlap of those two groups.”
Fang said she ran her platform on “unity, diversity and exposure.”
“The board seemed to me as a professional, committed and passionate group that I identified with and that I wanted to contribute to in a meaningful way,” she said.
Although voter turnout in graduate elections is notoriously low, GSA Chief Returning Officer Jeremy Hexham called the byelection a success. Just over 300 students voted during the two-hour voting period.
“Three hundred students voting in two hours is fantastic. I very much attribute this to the great job of campaigning that all the candidates did,” Hexham said.
Only five of 25 executive positions were contested in GSA elections from 2011–2016. But a surprising six candidates ran in the byelection — four for vice-president academic and two for vice-president external.
Hexham said more candidates generally run in byelections.
The GSA represents 6,000 graduate students at the University of Calgary. It provides services, lobbies the government and manages the Last Defence Lounge.