Report finds no foul play in October 2013 SFSS incident

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Monique Ataei alleged that Moe Kopahi struck her with his cell phone in October 2013.

A review of the incident that occurred between two SFSS board members on October 11, 2013, has found that the incident was accidental in nature and did not involve any violation of SFSS policies.

Last October, environmental representative Monique Ataei called for the resignation of member services officer Moe Kopahi after alleging that Kopahi unintentionally struck her with his cell phone in the SFSS offices after hours. Ataei also requested the remainder of her voluntary stipend for her year-long term, a sum totalling $6,125.

Following the incident, the SFSS engaged the firm Paula Boddie & Associates Ltd. to conduct a review of the incident as well as a workplace assessment. In an official statement, the SFSS said that the incident report, which is confidential, recommended that no further action be taken.

No criminal charges were sought or brought in relation to the incident. Nevertheless, SFU Campus Security was not at liberty to comment.

Although he is pleased that the incident finally has some closure, Kopahi told The Peak that he is not completely satisfied with the SFSS’ statement because “it’s not detailed.” He continued, “I’m happy it’s over, I’m happy that there’s something I have in hand to say it wasn’t intentional, whatever happened, but there’s really nothing else to do.

“The damage is already done, and there’s nothing they can fix. [. . .] It’s all over the internet and there’s no way to clean it up,” he stated.

Kopahi told The Peak last fall that Ataei had created “an unsafe space for male board members of the SFSS by sending a mass email [. . .] claiming false accusations.” He upheld his statement when he spoke to The Peak last week: “When I say unsafe, I don’t mean someone’s going to wait here with a gun for me, it’s not like that. But I didn’t feel safe in terms of, it’s not a pleasant safe space.”

In addition to receiving angry emails and hateful messages over social media, Kopahi said that the incident led to people approaching him in his office or in class to voice their opinions on what happened. “What I was afraid of was that people made judgement calls before any results came back,” said Kopahi.

Ataei did not respond to The Peak to comment, but Kopahi said that he holds no ill will towards her over the incident. “I just wish that she respected our friendship a bit more, but if that’s the way that she feels and if that’s the call that she made, then I respect it,” he said.

“The damage is already done, and there’s nothing they can fix.”

Moe Kopahi, VP university relations

As recommended by the workplace assessment conducted by Paula Boddie & Associates Ltd., the SFSS is in the process of developing a code of conduct that includes a clear complaint procedure to govern any further conflicts that might arise between board members.

External relations officer, Darwin Binesh, told The Peak that the decision to pursue the creation of such a code was actually made last fall, when a petition signed by 600 students calling for its creation was presented at the SFSS’ Annual General Meeting (AGM).

“The reason our board is taking the promises made by the previous board so seriously is because we have a goal. Our first goal for this year is to try to make the organization more transparent and accountable to the membership,” said Binesh.

With regards to creating a safe workplace environment, Binesh said that the current board members are working hard to resolve any problems through communication and collaboration. “Whenever there are disagreements, they’re not taken personally, they’re taken professionally,” he said.

He continued, “As a board, we agreed to focus on the issue instead of the person when we argue. Our arguments get heated, but are never personal. We have been trying to keep it professional so we can foster a better work environment.”

Current workplace conditions notwithstanding, Kopahi is pushing for the incident report to be published: “The student society spent money on this assessment. It’s students’ money, and people have the right to know what it was spent on.”

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