After a grueling question and answer segment at the Humber Students’ Federation’s annual All Candidates Meeting on Tuesday, presidential candidate Mikki Decker was disqualified from the race.
The candidates meeting addressed students running for the 2016 HSF elections where a three-student panel (made up of two current HSF staffers and one former HSF employee) posed questions to the candidates running for varying roles.
Just moments following her address to Humber students at the candidates meeting, Decker was escorted by Ercole Perrone, executive director of HSF to his offices.
In addition to being disqualified from the presidential running, Decker was stripped of her role as VP of Student Affairs.
Presidential candidate Joel Caldarola told Humber Et Cetera that he was “devastated” by Decker’s dismissal.
“She was the best candidate to win. I think she would have won it,” Caldarola said.
Perrone told Humber News it was an issue of academic standing, which made Decker ineligible to run for the HSF presidency.
The HSF constitution stipulates that students running for executive positions in student government maintain a GPA of 70 per cent. Decker turned in her grades late Sunday evening, which amounted to a 65 per cent GPA.
Decker’s platform largely centered on the issue of student mental heath.
The disqualified candidate was determined to bring in a full-time rape councilor for students as well as establish a peer-to-peer counseling program if elected into office.
“I am going to bring back your mental health and make sure you are getting the right resources you deserve,” she said during the candidate’s meeting.
The main tenets of her platform stemmed from her personal experience in managing her own mental health challenges, which she has been open about with her supporters.
A teary-eyed Decker spoke with Humber News just after her dismissal: “If it was an organization that understands anything about mental health it would understand that the way they dealt with this was not okay.”
Decker used her own mental health issues to find common ground with her peers in an effort to spark healthy dialogue and better advocate for those in the student body suffering from similar circumstances.
Decker was opposed to Perrone’s ruling on the matter.
“It’s absolutely impossible for a student to get past 70 per cent when you’re dealing with mental health (problems) sometimes and HSF doesn’t understand mental health. Period,” said Decker.
Both Perrone and HSF’s incumbent president Ahmed Tahir believe Decker’s dismissal to be justified.
However, both revealed plans to amend the constitution by changing the academic requirement to “good academic standing” rather than a 70 per cent condition.
Decker is a full-time student in Family, Community and Social Services.
Alongside her full-time studies she was working to fulfill her duties as a full-time VP of Student Affairs.
Tahir is a part-time student and was able to meet the academic requirement while fulfilling his full-time duties as student president.
In an exclusive interview with Humber Et Cetera, Tahir said HSF’s established instruments to assist students struggling with mental health issues and participate in student government were “adequate” but not enough.
Tahir agreed with Perrone that HSF handled Decker’s dismissal appropriately.
“Whether it’s fair or not isn’t for us to determine right now,” said Tahir.
Joel Caldarola, Tahir’s only remaining opponent found the grounds for Decker’s termination to be highly problematic.
“I think there should be some leeway here because it doesn’t make sense for this student [Decker]. We want to encourage people to run for office and putting unnecessary roadblocks in their way doesn’t make sense,” Caldarola said.
Humber Et Cetera found out first hand that Decker was also a student receiving academic accommodation due to her challenges with mental health.
“We can talk all we want about bringing in a fall reading week or other things of a slightly frivolous nature but mental health is a problem that needs to be addressed and the services are lacking here,” Caldarola said.
“I can see how that might have angered some people who want to maintain a squeaky clean perception of our school and HSF,” he said.
“[HSF] are very concerned with the way they appear, very concerned. It gets problematic because you can’t tell whether they are putting that appearance ahead of the students they are supposed to be protecting,” he said.
Following her initial interview with Humber News, Decker was unavailable for further comment.