Written by: Amneet Mann, News Editor
After unanimously passing the motion to recommend the impeachment of president Jas Randhawa was passed unanimously, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) announced the motion on Facebook. The impeachment will be brought to a vote during the 2018 annual general meeting (AGM). The AGM is set to be held on September 24 in the Diamond Family Auditorium, and all undergraduate SFU students are eligible to vote for or against Randhawa’s impeachment.
“SFU Dank Memes Gang” one of the first to get the news
Shortly following the passing of the motion in the board meeting, applied sciences representative Kia Mirsalehi posted the news on a Facebook page titled “SFU Dank Memes Gang.”
“More details [regarding the impeachment] will come shortly, or you can just message me,” wrote Mirsalehi.
The post was accompanied by an attachment of the song “Impeach the President” by The Honey Drippers.
Mirsalehi made a similar post in the Facebook page titled “Computing Science Student Society (CSSS) @ SFU.”
In an email interview with The Peak, vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill wrote, “There is nothing preventing any Board members from posting publicly passed motions by the Board of Directors.
“However, for the sake of clarity, students can expect all future information regarding the impeachment to come from the SFSS social media channels.”
The Peak reached out to Mirsalehi following his Facebook post. “In fear of being threatened with legal action, I wanted to announce the situation to the public and get the truth of the story out as soon as possible,” wrote Mirsalehi in an email interview. “This is what prompted me to make multiple posts talking about the motion passed at the public meeting on August 14th.
“Even before the meeting where the motion for impeachment was passed, Jas had taken aggressive steps to silence members of the board from speaking out,” he added.
On August 29, Mirsalehi made a post on his personal Facebook account summarizing the sequence of events which led to the motion to impeach Randhawa.
“I recently was asked if I regret the decision that I, along with the rest of the board, made to start the impeachment process,” wrote Mirsalehi. “I do not regret the Board’s decision to impeach him. Any uncertainty that may have existed was replaced with a sense of anger at the actions Jas has taken since we started the impeachment process.”
Mirsalehi then listed the actions Randhawa had taken since the impeachment motion had been passed, including “actions [taken] to try and silence certain board members from speaking out” and trying to “make secret and underhand deals with certain groups to vote against his impeachment, promising to benefit them if he retains power.”
The Peak reached out to Randhawa for comment regarding the allegations made in Mirsalehi’s post. “I was not surprised to see this post from Kia,” Randhawa wrote in an email interview. “He has blatantly spoken about holding vendettas in the board office as soon as the board term began.”
“As someone who would prefer for matters to be resolved in the most peaceful way as possible, I’d recommend to Kia and the directors who are making these baseless allegations to perform an independent investigation of the situation. [. . .] None of the allegations will be proven true as they hold zero base or evidence — it is entirely Kia manipulating his friends and board members to adhere to his bias,” added Randhawa.
Randhawa questions legitimacy of impeachment decision
Randhawa has alleged that the manner in which the impeachment motion was carried through was in violation of SFSS by-laws.
In his original letter submitted to The Peak, he wrote: “In the SFSS standard operating procedures, it states the steps to progressive discipline would be to start with a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, followed by a 2-week suspension without pay before proceeding with impeachment.
“All these procedures were skipped, and VP directors assumed on their own that it would be appropriate to bypass all of this in attempts to push me into resignation with threats of impeachment proceedings.”
In the board meeting in which the motion for impeachment was passed, Randhawa also alleged that the board’s conduct in the move to impeach him was in violation of the BC Societies Act.
In an email interview with The Peak conducted prior to the board meeting in which the motion to recommend impeachment was passed, Randhawa stated that at-large representative Mohammed Ali was “appointed to act as a liaison for communication with myself and also to call board meetings in a group chat created by [vice-presidents] from which I was excluded.” According to Randhawa, these actions are in violation of SFSS board policy GP-4: Officer Job Descriptions, as well as by-law 4: Powers, Duties, and Obligations of Executive Officers.
SFSS by-law 4 states that the SFSS president shall “have the power to convene the Board and Council at any time.”
SFSS governance process policy 4 states that the SFSS president shall “be the Chair of the Board of Directors.”
Gill responded to the allegations made by Randhawa on behalf of the board: “The Board of Directors did not break any by-laws or the BC Societies Act during the process of impeachment. These allegations were not validated by any form of proof.
“Every decision that the board has made regarding this impeachment has been unanimous and we continue to stand behind our decision.”
Another concern Randhawa has brought forth is the conduct of SFSS CEO Martin Wyant during this process. Randhawa cited an incident where, in a recent discussion with Wyant, Randhawa was told Wyant would be taking a sick leave due to an upcoming surgery. Randhawa states that he later found out that Wyant had told other board members that the reason for Wyant’s sick leave was the stress that Randhawa was causing him.
“Attempts to manipulate directors and employee concerns are not being addressed appropriately at the SFSS,” wrote Randhawa after recounting this incident.
All faculty representatives (excluding arts and social sciences representative Kailyn Ng, who was not able to respond by the time of publication) commented that Randhawa’s comments regarding Wyant’s sick leave were false. “[Randhawa’s] comments discussing why Martin is taking his leave are not only false, but also a breach of confidentiality,” wrote Mirsalehi.
All of the faculty representatives who responded declined to comment on what they were told regarding Wyant’s sick leave as a matter of respecting his privacy.
“All Board members have a duty to protect the privacy of all SFSS employees,” wrote business representative Jessica Nguyen.
Leading up to AGM
Required under the BC Societies Act, the AGM is held every fall term, with the main agenda item being the overview of the fiscal reports of the student society. The meeting is open to all of the SFSS membership, and each individual has a vote on the discussion items during the meeting.
According to the SFSS website on the AGM, “as a member, you can also take advantage of this platform to have your questions and concerns directly addressed by the elected Board of Directors, or propose motions to change what the SFSS is doing.”
If any business above core matters is to be discussed at the AGM, at least 250 members must be present.
Leading up to this year’s AGM on September 24, Gill has commented that “the impeachment process will not affect the regular operations of the SFSS. Students will still be receiving the same services and resources from the SFSS.”
As the date of the AGM nears, Randhawa is “prepared to add motions onto the AGM and take action against Martin and directors who I have witnessed act negligently.” He hopes to make a formal public announcement soon.