Fraternity link suspected in decision to oust Anishinaabe student VP at Ottawa university

Electoral officer is president of Carleton University fraternity which counts Anishinaabe student’s political opponent as “brother”

(Anishinaabe university student Ashley Courchene was suddenly ousted after winning election for vice-president of student services at Carleton University in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Ashley Courchene.)

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
An Anishinaabe student who was suddenly ousted as a student association vice-president of an Ottawa university following a narrow election win says a fraternity link between one of his political opponents and the chief electoral officer played a role in the decision.

Ashley Courchene, a third-year political science major from Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, won the race for vice-president of student services for Carleton University’s Students’ Association (CUSA) by 21 votes last Thursday.

His victory lasted mere hours.

The next day Matthew Swain, the chief electoral officer for the student association, posted a notice disqualifying Courchene and his Change party following a complaint against a volunteer.

Courchene, 32, was the only Change candidate to win a spot on the executive.

According to results posted last Thursday, Change candidates came second to their main opponents, the Your Carleton party, in all the other contests for CUSA executive positions.

Swain is the president of the Kappa Sigma, Omicron-Pi fraternity which counts Your Carleton candidate Zameer Masjedee as a “brother.” Masjedee won his race for the position of vice-president of student life.

“I think (Swain’s) allegiance to the current executive is behind this decision,” said Courchene.

Electoral officer Matthew Swain is president of fraternity linked to opponent of disqualified VP candidate.
Electoral officer Matthew Swain is president of fraternity linked to opponent of disqualified VP candidate.

Swain’s fraternity ties became an issue during his hiring as chief electoral officer last December, said Adam Carroll, Courchene’s campaign manager.

Carroll said two Your Carleton student executives, who were on the hiring board, pushed to have Swain’s hiring approved as chief electoral officer and won the day. A “conflict of interest” notice was then posted on the student association’s website outlining Swain’s links to the fraternity.

“We at the Elections Office have full confidence in our abilities to run a fair and unbiased election regardless of any circumstances,” said the notice.

One of the student executives who backed Swain’s hiring last December was the incumbent vice-president of student services Frena Hailekiros. Hailekiros lost to Courchene 2,611 votes to 2,590, according to last Thursday’s posted results.

Swain and Hailekiros declined APTN National News’ request for interviews.

Incumbent vice-president of student services Frena Hailekiros supported controversial hiring of electoral officer with fraternity links to her Your Carleton party. The electoral officer Matthew Swain disqualified Ashley Courchene who beat Hailekiros in last week’s student elections.

Swain said he was involved in Friday’s posted decision to disqualify Courchene and his party, but didn’t see himself in conflict, according to an email obtained by APTN.

Courchene said he is appealing the disqualification.

Swain failed to notify the Change party a complaint had been filed against one of their volunteers, which the electoral officer is required to do under the student association’s rules, said Courchene.

A Change volunteer was accused of impersonating a professor during class time while urging students to vote for Change candidates. The complaint was filed by a professor.

Carroll said Courchene’s supporters have gathered conflicting accounts around the complaint which will be submitted as part of the appeal to the CUSA electoral board which also includes the university’s ombudsman.

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3 thoughts on “Fraternity link suspected in decision to oust Anishinaabe student VP at Ottawa university

  1. straight talk
    corruption in elections is nothing new, if u are the loser save face take the loss. that is what needs to be done here, u lost an election more people voted for him……. eh

  2. This post is vastly misinformed! Fraternity member Zameer Masjedee (Your Carleton) was running and fairly won the position of VP of Student Life by popular vote. Ashley Courchene was running for the position of VP Student services and through controversy mentioned above was replaced by Frena Hailekiros (Your Carleton), a female candidate with no affiliation to any fraternity. This article is creating unwarranted controversy to Mr Masjedee, Mr Swain, Your Carleton, Carleton University Student Association and the Kappa Sigma, Omicron-Pi Fraternity and I recommend that it is taken down!
    All elections results can be verified here:

    1. The same way that the charlatan wrote a misinformed article about Real Leadership, but even with the main person that they interviewed coming forward and stating that it was not him answering the writer’s questions, the charlatan decided to keep the article throughout the election. There’s corruption at Carleton, and people need to be wary of the greeks.

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