Committee will investigate validity of election results

Because some staff members weren’t allowed to vote in the university elections, one candidate up for election for the faculty council in the arts department missed out on getting a seat. An arbitration committee will determine whether the results are valid.

Last week, the arbitration committee held a hearing about the matter. During the hearing, the committee dealt with three objections that had been submitted.

Geramé Wouters, lecturer in Dutch at the Language Centre, was a candidate for the faculty council of the arts department. She was three votes short of getting a seat on the council. She objected to the results, because some of her colleagues at the Language Centre weren’t allowed to vote this year.

If they had, they would have voted for Wouters, getting her that seat on the faculty council, she claims. ‘These people were allowed to vote in 2019 and 2017. It’s important to me, because the daily goings-on at the Language Centre should be represented on the faculty council.’

Changes to regulations

A week after the elections, union representative Maarten Goldberg submitted a complaint to the Central Electoral Committee (CEC), because it turned out that on-call workers at the Language Centre weren’t allowed to vote. They were employed by the UG on March 1, 2021, which means they have the right to vote in accordance with the Regulations for the University Council, Goldberg says.

The CEB confirms that the on-call employees were not on the register this year. The committee says this was decided because the group of on-call workers is so diverse; they’re mainly employees with small and temporary appointments that work irregular hours.

Council not consulted

‘I don’t understand how they suddenly had a different interpretation of the regulations we wrote, when we didn’t change them’, said Antoon De Baets with the Personnel faction on Thursday during the university council’s portfolio committee meeting. De Baets says that any changes to the rules should be run by the university council first.

Aart Korten, head of the legal department, says it concerns people with a zero-hour contract who perform duties like invigilating during exams, and who are usually only needed a few times a year. But De Baets pointed out this isn’t true for the on-call employees at the Language Centre. ‘They actually work a lot of hours and have mostly been doing so for many years. That’s important, because it means one of their candidates lost out on a seat.’

Korten says De Baets’ reasoning doesn’t hold up. ‘The person concerned was on the list and wasn’t elected.’ Korten said that for the next elections, they’ll re-evaluate the right to vote of Language Centre employees.

New elections

The arbitration committee will look into the three objections. Until then, the election results for the staff section at the university will stand, says Korten. The committee will deliver its recommendation to the board of directors as quickly as possible.

‘The board is eager to be apprised of this recommendation’, said Korten. ‘It does depend on what it is, but in general, the board adopts recommendations like these. Even if that means that a part or even the entirety of the staff section elections need to be re-issued.’


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