SUS computer science representative resigns after criticism for not being in computer science

The recently-elected Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) representative for the department of computer science has resigned after controversy.

Ramy Hydayatullah was elected as the computer science representative in the SUS fall elections after running unopposed and receiving 67 votes for and 23 against. However, controversy over Hydayatullah’s program status as well as his past Reddit posts erupted on the UBC subreddit and he has since resigned, as confirmed by SUS President Dayle Balmes and Hydayatullah.

The UBC subreddit was inundated with posts and memes critical of Hydayatullah after posts on October 25 and October 27 pointed out that he wasn’t in computer science. Hydayatullah resigned on October 29 and shortly after, subreddit moderators limited discussion of the matter after they “received legal threats that seriously compromised [their] ability to effectively moderate most content around this.”

The subreddit moderators declined to make further comment on the matter to The Ubyssey.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Hydayatullah said the backlash extended beyond the UBC subreddit, to people contacting previous employers and finding where his parents lived.

“Ultimately, I resigned because I had lost the support of my constituents,” he said.

“I received death threats. My address, full name, and face were posted for targeted comments. Some TAs from my computer science course were discussing my in-class behaviour and specific instances from class. I have been told that it is being investigated,” he said.

Hydayatullah said he received no support from the SUS amid the controversy online.

A decision overturned

After the SUS fall election, AMS Chief Electoral Officer Oscar Yu ruled to invalidate Hydayatullah’s election. However, Yu’s decision was overturned by the AMS Elections Appeals Committee after an appeal by Hydayatullah. Hydayatullah said he appealed with the support of the SUS. The Appeals Committee ruled that Yu did not have the authority to overturn the result without receipt of an internal appeal within SUS.

Citing AMS Code Section IX-A, Article 9, Paragraph 3 which states, “provided that at least one internal appeal has taken place within a Constituency, the Elections Committee shall rule on the validity of a Constituency election or referendum,” the committee found that Yu couldn’t overturn the election results as no internal appeal had taken place.

The committee did however find that Hydayatullah’s candidacy for computer science representative was in violation of the SUS Code of Procedures under Article 11 Section 6 which affirms that program representatives must be actively in that department or program.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, Yu said that he disagreed with the Election Appeals Committee’s decision. “ particular, [I disagree with] their ruling that the Chief Electoral Officer did not have the power to invalidate a constituency election result.”

While the AMS Elections Appeals Committee overturned Yu’s decision on the basis that there hadn’t been an appeal within the SUS, Yu said he believed that the SUS had never released the results to the public, “which gave no opportunity for their members to appeal or complain about the results.” The unofficial results did not appear to have been announced on the SUS’s social media channels.

Yu said he received an email about the election from the complainant after the SUS’s appeal period had already closed and that “the complainant had no opportunity to appeal or complain” as the results hadn’t been released to SUS members by the end of the appeal period.

“It is my job to invalidate the results of any constituency election that violates the SUS rules and AMS rules,” said Yu.

SUS admits error

Hydayatullah said he verified “repeatedly with SUS” to “ensure [his] eligibility but to also prevent an unnecessary time commitment,” but was told he was an eligible candidate.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, SUS President Dayle Balmes said he learned that Hydayatullah was in first year during the initial nomination period. Balmes said that the SUS believed that Hydayatullah was eligible for the position.

“This was maybe where the oversight on our part came in. We thought it was okay. It was based on past precedent,” he said.

Balmes explained that a previous computer science representative on the SUS Council had been a first year. However, that representative had been selected by the departmental club, not elected through SUS elections.

Of the election and subsequent controversy, Balmes “acknowledge[d]” and “apologize[d] for making that mistake.”

“We might try to make [SUS governance documents] more specific just so that stuff like this doesn't happen again.”

As for the unfilled seat on council, Balmes said it would be up to the Computer Science Students’ Society to fill it according to its policies.

“I apologize for not resigning sooner. There has been some error in the way I responded to the backlash, but please know I was uninformed and misguided. I wish the next representative the best of luck, and I hope the department benefits from whoever that person may be,” Hydayatullah said.