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.
The leaked recording provided to The Peak by Randhawa involves vague discussions of sexual misconduct allegations within the SFSS office, though no clear details are given regarding the nature of the event.
According to vice-president student services Samer Rihani in the recording, these allegations were not taken seriously by Randhawa. When advised to bring the issue to the newly opened Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office, Randhawa did not act immediately and, according to Rihani, “you had three women in your board office who were scared of coming to the board office for fear of someone who’s in there causing problems and discomfort, for not only the women in there but for the rest of us.”
In an email interview with The Peak, Randhawa stated that “the issue regarding the now inactive board member was resolved by no small effort from my part. [. . .] I provided [the women involved] the option of visiting the student conduct office and women’s center as well. I supported these three women on board with their issues far before events had escalated.”
Randhawa continued, “I appreciate that Samer wanted to take lead on the issue. However, I feel it is in no way appropriate for Samer to make baseless accusations on what could have been done differently to load his argument, partly why I have had to involve a defamation lawyer.”
Randhawa is criticized by board members for not providing support to these board members coming forward with concerns, including telling SFSS CEO Martin Wyant that the women did not want his help without first consulting the women themselves.
Randhawa responded, “I requested Martin to provide support options for all the women who were affected by sexual harassment in the workplace.
“My only intervention was that I requested that these women be allowed to make the decision on their own rather than Martin. I believed whether they prefer to report this to student conduct, SFU Sexual Violence Prevention Office (SVSPO), or visit the women’s center for support resources – it should ultimately be their decision as they are the ones who are affected.”
Randhawa also maintained that Wyant had “avoided listening” to the ongoing workplace issues Randhawa attempted to explain to him. “It was not until after numerous attempts to convince me to resign and the recording reaching The Peak where Martin became involved with workplace issues.”
Wyant declined to comment on Randhawa’s allegations.
While on the subject of women in the workplace, vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman mentioned that an attempt to have a conference on women in the workplace as part of the board’s development session had been shot down by Randhawa previously.