A Tribunal ruling has wrapped up protracted proceedings stemming back to last Spring's Students' Union General Election.
The Students' Union Tribunal has reversed a Review Board decision, ruling that student Hannah Murray contravened SU election bylaws. Murray distributed and posted materials during the 1999 SU General Election accusing presidential candidate David Quayat of sexual harassment.
Quayat charged that Murray, who was not a candidate or a member of a campaign group, violated bylaw 31(4), which states: "Only the Students' Union, candidates, or campaign groups may post election-related or campaign materials." The Review Board originally ruled the bylaw did not apply to Murray because the materials were not posted by a candidate or campaign group.
"The Review Board felt that Hannah Murray's actions did not fall in the scope of the bylaw," said Tribunal Chair Richard O'Gorman. "However, we [the Tribunal] have decided that she did participate in a form of campaigning during the election."
The Tribunal's decision also reflected on the content of Murray's materials, concluding at least one purpose of her messages was to cause personal harm to Quayat.
Quayat was pleased with the decision.
"The Tribunal did what I asked it to," he said. "They agreed with me on all the core issues. I'm glad they gave a proper reading to the bylaw and the issue as a whole."
For Murray, the issue is moot.
"It's pretty much over and done with in my mind," she said. "I still believe I acted in the best interests of the students."
The Tribunal decided to censure Murray; no other sanctions were imposed.
Quayat was comfortable with the punishment, stating he was out to defend the election process, and his personal and professional reputation.
"I, as the person bringing the charge, have an emotional bias," said Quayat. "The Tribunal judged what in their opinion was fair, and I can live with that."
Murray did not dispute the charge.
"As far as I'm concerned, censure is maybe appropriate," said Murray. "Obviously there were better ways I could have conducted [myself]."
Quayat also submitted a charge of non-academic misconduct to Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Stephen Randall. According to Murray, she was placed on one year probation as a result.
"I think my purpose has been served," said Quayat, satisfied with the outcome. "For me, part of this was to send a clear message I'm not a sexual predator or sexual harasser."
The Tribunal's decision also brought up the question of ambiguity in the SU bylaws, and it suggested changes.
According to SU President Rob South, the bylaws will be examined, though he cautions against any quick alterations.
"There will be action taken in a slow, methodical manner in order to ensure a well-understood definition of terms exists," he said. "If we rush to change the bylaws we may complicate matters further with other unclear terms or references."