System outage temporarily disrupts Board of Governors faculty representative by-election

Voting for a new UBC Vancouver Board of Governors (BoG) faculty representative was temporarily disrupted due to a systems outage that brought down almost all UBC networks.

This morning, UBC IT reported that an issue with Educloud services had brought down most UBC online services, including access to UBC emails, wifi connectivity and Canvas. The university’s voting system WebVote was also affected, delaying voting for a BoG faculty seat soon-to-be vacated by Professor Ayesha Chaudhry.

The voting system was functional again just after noon, UBC Senate Office tweeted. Access to other UBC platforms and services have also slowly been restored throughout the early afternoon.

At the March 19 BoG meeting, Chaudhry announced that she would be stepping down from her position effective June 30, mandating a by-election to select a new faculty representative to serve until the end of her term on February 29, 2020.

With the nomination period ended on May 7, voting for that election is scheduled to happen between today (May 15) and Tuesday, June 5.

Microbiology and immunology Professor Steven Hallam, who is also a candidate in this by-election, indicated that the delay this morning was not a “major problem,” noting that faculty were only informed of the candidates at 11:15 am — or 30 minutes before systems were restored.

“If they want to extend it by another day I think that’s reasonable,” said Hallam.

Beside Hallam, there are three other candidates vying for the vacated seat — mathematics Professor Nassif Ghoussoub, psychology Professor Darrin Lehman and Professor Jean Shoveller from the School of Population and Public Health.

Stephanie Olford, UBC’s academic governance officer, confirmed that there will be no change to the voting period despite the disruption.

“This is a minimum-of-two-weeks process anyway so the disruption this morning wouldn’t affect the overall timeline,” Oldford said.

Besides the outage, some professors also took to Twitter to decry what they saw as an excessive degree of secrecy around the election prior to the voting period. While nominations were due on May 7 at 4 p.m., the list of candidates was not made public to faculty until this morning, as noted by Hallam.

Oldford responded that it required one week following the nomination period for her to review the candidates’ individual information, communicate to them the full list of candidates and allow them time to decide whether to continue on with their bid for the vacated BoG seat.

“Until yesterday, I didn’t have everything in place to release the information,” she said.

“And the one method that I can communicate to everybody evenly and equally is the broadcast email, and I need to schedule those way in advance so ... that and needing the time to review the nominees and that they all wish to let their name stand — that’s how long it takes.”

Professor Nassif Ghoussoub, Professor Darrin Lehman and Professor Jean Shoveller did not respond to requests for comment by press time.