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.
Numerous times in the recording which he provided to The Peak, Randhawa was criticized for non-adherence to established protocol.
Vice-president finance Matthew Chow accused Randhawa of abusing his “power as chair to hear the opinions that [he wanted] to be hearing” and of silencing certain voices on the Board by breaching Robert’s Rules of Order, the procedure guide used by the SFSS.
One of the breaches of procedure brought up in the meeting included an incident in which Randhawa selected directors to be sent to the Student Union Development Summit 2018 conference on the basis of doing them “favours,” despite those directors not having sent in statements of interest.
“You can’t set a term of liability and then break it yourself,” said vice-president student services Samer Rihani. “If you’re going to tell people ‘accountability’ and make them send you statements of interest telling you why exactly they’re going to benefit student dollars and [the] student society on the money we’re using to send people, at least know one fact from what they can bring back.”
“I went by precedent of what happened last year. I guess that was wrong for me to do,” Randhawa responded. “I did have my own assumptions when I was choosing people [. . .] I tried to get as many faculty representatives out to the conference as possible because I felt it would be a pretty big opportunity for them.”
Executive members also accused Randhawa of controlling and withholding information from the rest of the board.
“There’s information that we haven’t gotten because you might have seen it as being sensitive or tough information,” said Rihani. “We want to be able to see these things. We’re here to help as [vice-presidents], we all have our separate skills, but there’s been many times I’ve found out now that there has been information that hasn’t hit the board table or gotten to the right ears just because you’ve been holding that back.”
According to vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill, much of the board’s concern about information control relates to communication between Randhawa and SFSS CEO Martin Wyant to which other board members are not immediately privy.
“We need to know clearly what has been discussed and what we are supposed to do with that information,” she said. “We can’t have it coming from him and then you and then you overriding him or him saying something different.”
The Peak reached out to Randhawa for his response to the allegations of information control within the board. Randhawa maintained that the recorded meeting was the first instance in which he had heard these complaints from the board.
“Executive directors stated that they want information right as soon as it hits my inbox from every working group for the first time,” Randhawa stated. “It had never been precedent nor requested by any of the directors prior. I brought forward all agenda items to our biweekly board meeting in a timely manner, therefore I am not convinced that information was withheld.”
Randhawa also named Wyant as a prominent individual creating a divide within the board, contributing to a “toxic workplace,” and perpetuating information control within the society.
Randhawa alleged that “sometimes Martin would solely develop proposals and present them only to only certain [sic] people.” He cited an incident during the Fraser International College (FIC) service delivery transition, in which Wyant sent a copy of incoming FIC funds to only select board members.
Randhawa alleged that the scope of information control that Wyant maintained extended beyond the board office and into communications with the rest of the SFSS staff.
“Martin was controlling my responses to the union as well who at the time was trying to communicate that SFSS staff members feel as if they’re in a toxic workplace under Martin,” wrote Randhawa. “I’ve had to reach out to the union independently to find out the reality of staff issues occurring within the SFSS.”
“My theory is that Martin prefers someone in the position of President who he is easily able to manipulate or control because he easily becomes aggravated when he is not able to promote his own agenda,” he continued.
Wyant declined to comment on Randhawa’s allegations.