The VIU Young Greens had their club status revoked by the VIU Students’ Union (VIUSU) on Thursday, just days before the election, due to violation of club policy.

The VIU Young Greens invited candidates Paul Manly and Elizabeth May to visit the campus on September 8, which was deemed to be inappropriate by the VIUSU, according to their policy. After being put on probation, the club continued to hold campus events with Manly. This was in violation of a rule that states political candidates cannot visit VIU unless all candidates have been invited.

“During an election, clubs can’t promote candidates when other candidates are not invited,” says Michael Olson, Executive Director of the VIUSU. “They were aware of that, and were put on probation in September, but they continuously kept doing so. We like that they are passionate about people getting involved, but there were other ways they could have done so.”

Phoebe Patigdas, Director of Internal Relations at the VIUSU, made the final decision to revoke the club’s status. Patigdas says the VIUSU wants to remain non-partisan. “We don’t want VIUSU services and resources used in a way that violates the rules.”

Former co-chair of the VIU Young Greens Sacia Burton believes there is a flaw in the policy surrounding VIU’s political clubs.

“Candidates have been allowed to be promoted on other campuses; VIU is an exception. I think this is an outdated policy on behalf of the university,” says Burton.

Hugh Thorburn, left, and Sacia Burton, right, door-knocking for the Paul Manly campaign. Photo courtesy the Green Party
Hugh Thorburn, left, and Sacia Burton, right, door-knocking for the Paul Manly campaign. Photo courtesy of the Green Party.

Burton says this rule is in contradiction with the Elections Act. In a statement she sent to the VIUSU and VIU’s Communications Department on October 15, she points to Section 81.1 that states:

“81.1 (1) No person who is in control of a building, land, street, or any other place, any part of which is open without charge to members of the public, whether on a continuous, periodic, or occasional basis—including any commercial, business, cultural, historical, educational, religious, governmental, entertainment, or recreational place—may prevent a candidate or his or her representative from campaigning in or on that part when it is open without charge to members of the public.”

VIU’s only other partisan club on campus, the NDP Club, applauds the VIUSU’s decision. “The VIU Young Greens have repeatedly and knowingly broken the rules by sending their Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate and even the Green Party Leader onto campus to make it look like only their party cares about students and getting their vote,” said Trevor Dickinson, chair of the VIU NDP Club. “They can promote their party, not the candidates. Our NDP Club has played by the rules, and our student-to-student approach to telling the VIU community about the importance of defeating the Conservatives and electing a truly progressive government has been getting great results.”

A press release from the Canadian Federation of Students B.C. claims that youth have helped shatter advance voting records. Turnout at B.C. polls was 96 per cent higher than 2011. “As of today, 3.6 million Canadians have voted in the advance polls—a 71 per cent increase from 2011,” the press release states.

“According to Elections Canada, students and young people are a powerful part of the voter surge.”

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