Written by: Gabrielle McLaren, Features Editor and Amneet Mann, News Editor
This article is part of a series discussing the leaked recording provided to The Peak by Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) president Jas Randhawa. The recording documents a meeting between executive members of the SFSS board of directors and Randhawa in which he is urged to resign from his position as president.
Executive members of the SFSS board questioned Randhawa’s ability to accept constructive criticism throughout the recording he leaked to The Peak and reinforced that this was not the first time concerns regarding Randhawa’s leadership had been brought to his attention.
“Over the last three months, I think each of [the executive members] independently have [made] attempts [at] bringing forward criticism, and they’re received in very different manners every time,” vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman told Randhawa during the meeting. “It’s not consistent, and often concerns we bring forward are not received at all.
“I think it comes down to failing to take responsibility or ownership,” Freedman continued. “I’ve known you now for a long, long time, and I haven’t seen that change. I was looking for it when we went from at-large to you jumping into the president role, and I haven’t seen that change. And I’ve been worried about it.”
Vice-president finance Matthew Chow chimed in, agreeing that criticism is one thing that Randhawa has consistently missed. “At the beginning of this year, I tried to provide you a lot of critique [. . .] and every single time I was matched with the same thing. I was matched with, ‘well, do you not trust me, Matthew? Do you not think I’m competent?’ [. . .] that’s not something that’s acceptable as a leader.”
Aside from an instance in which Freedman was named an HR representative for the board alongside Randhawa, Randhawa stated in an email interview to The Peak that “I cannot recall any other meeting between myself and executive directors before the 1st of August where concerns stated in the recording were raised or feedback was provided.
According to Chow, this change in internal administration was made as it was recognized by the board that Randhawa’s position as president may make other directors hesitant to discuss certain HR issues with him.
As the switching of the HR roles was carried out, Randhawa maintained that this cannot be counted as an instance where feedback was not received well.
“It is difficult to understand why Jackson and Samer jumped to assumptions that feedback will be interpreted a certain way while they themselves have never provided any criticism prior,” Randhawa wrote.
In the recording, Freedman said, “I don’t know if I can name a board member who hasn’t come up to me and said they feel uncomfortable bringing up an HR concern to you.
“It’s difficult for people to bring forward criticism to you. [. . .] I’ve heard people say they’re scared to, it’s intimidating, and that they feel it’s a useless effort, in that it won’t be received and nothing will be done because they’ve seen a pattern,” he added.
Randhawa responded to this allegation via email, writing, “during this meeting, executive directors were generalizing and speaking on behalf of Faculty representatives. When Jackson states ‘they’ve seen a pattern,’ he is merely trying to convince me that his concern falls on a greater scale.”
Randhawa continued: “Every accusation of being intimidating or scary was quite surprising for me as I had never heard this from Jackson or Samer before. To constantly hear them state ‘we’re afraid of you, we are scared of you’ ‘fear-mongered by the way you’re running this show’ etc. despite any clarity, context, or explanation and then threaten me right after with defamatory news and social media posts was contradicting.”