By: Amneet Mann, News Editor
With the vote to decide his impeachment nearing, SFSS president Jas Randhawa has come forth with his own motions for the student body to vote on in a special general meeting (SGM).
Randhawa is bringing forward four special resolutions to impeach vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman, vice-president student services Samer Rihani, vice-president finance Matthew Chow, and applied sciences representative Kia Mirsalehi.
On the same petition, Randhawa is bringing forward four ordinary resolutions to impeach CEO Martin Wyant, and allocate space in the new Student Union Building (SUB) to the First Nations Student Association (FSNA), the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG), and the Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA).
Original plans to add motions onto AGM proved unsuccessful
As discussed in a previous Board of Directors meeting, for a SFSS member — any SFU undergraduate student — to add a motion to the agenda of an annual general meeting (AGM) or SGM, the motion must be approved by the board, council, or at least five percent of SFSS members via a petition. Accordingly, Randhawa is proposing his motions in the form of a petition and seeking signatures from the student body.
Randhawa originally commented to The Peak that he intended to add his motions to the agenda of the AGM taking place on September 24. However, according to Rihani, Freedman, and Mirsalehi, the board’s legal professionals determined that Randhawa had missed the deadline to add motions onto the AGM as per the SFSS Bylaws and the BC Societies Act.
SFSS by-law 11 (2) states that the notice of an AGM or SGM must be given at least 21 days before the meeting.
Section 78 of the BC Societies Act states that “notice of a general meeting must include the text of any special resolution to be submitted to the meeting.”
Section 81 (4) of the BC Societies Act states that a proposal which is submitted to a society more than seven days before notice of the AGM is sent must include the proposal on the agenda sent out along with the meeting’s notice.
Randhawa commented that he does not agree with the board’s legal professionals on the matter of whether his motions may be added to the AGM agenda. “Since we have the scenario of what happens if a member’s proposal is submitted between the 21-day notice and the seven-day “window” before it — the proposal would still be received as there was a notice of submission,” wrote Randhawa in an email interview.
“I’m not sure as to whether the SFSS lawyer was called for follow-up, but he is not someone neutral on the ongoing issues, so we should not be requesting this information from him,” added Randhawa.
“My belief is still that member proposals should not be controlled or rejected by board members.” – Jas Randhawa, SFSS president
Anticipating that his AGM proposal would be rejected by the board of directors, Randhawa then amended his original intention and stated that he would move forward to call a SGM with the petition.
According to SFSS by-law 11 (8), the president must convene a SGM upon receiving a petition signed by five percent of members.
Responses to the motions
Randhawa commented on his exclusion of vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill and vice-president student life Tawanda Masawi from his proposed motions to impeach as he does “not currently see any professional nor conduct related concerns for them to be removed as directors.”
Randhawa alleged issues of miscommunication and “being easily persuaded [by Wyant]” lead him to propose to impeach Rihani and Freedman. He also commented that Freedman and Wyant both refused to be flexible on their preferred date to hold the Fall Kick-off, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the event.
“I’m confident in my ability to come to my own decisions,” wrote Freedman in response. “While I greatly respect Martin’s expertise and role in our organization, I have made every decision at the board table this year of my own accord.”
Freedman went on to write that Randhawa himself was strongly and openly opposed to negotiating on the concern date.
The Peak reached out to Rihani regarding Randhawa’s allegations. “With such strange and invalid allegations being thrown around, I’d like to point out that along with the points made about the directors Jas is fighting against, he is not noting any single items or times that are examples of what he’s said,” commented Rihani.
“Matthew on the other hand has not lived up to the standards and requirements as stated in the policy for his role,” wrote Randhawa. He referred to Chow’s support in the alleged lengthy paid vacations taken by executive directors “without having developed an appropriate policy within the Finance and Audit Committee as he stated he would” as an example.
In response, Chow explained that the policy regarding vacation time had not yet been developed by the board due to the current lack of defined job descriptions for SFSS directors. “This issue was noted quite early on, so the Governance Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee both have it in our year plans to define director job descriptions and key performance indicators and to link to direction compensation and, thus, benefits,” wrote Chow in an email interview.
“It seems more reasonable to wait for reasonable justification as to how director compensation should work rather than create policy at the whims of a president who doesn’t understand the importance of internal controls,” added Chow. “If Jas had taken the time to understand policy holistically rather than cherry picking, he would be aware that I am acting in accordance with the principles behind my role, that is, fiscal responsibility and ethical disbursement of funds.”
Chow commented that, in the interim, he has been following the precedent set by previous years, which means allocating board members an average of 10 business days for the year.
Randhawa also alleged that Mirsalehi “has done very little work during his time on board,” and commented that he had often witnessed Mirsalehi “horseplay, drink alcohol in the board office, and constantly find ways to try and upset the team dynamic on board.”
In response, Mirsalehi stated that Randhawa had previously both critiqued Mirsalehi for his extensive involvement in board initiatives and specifically reached out to Mirsalehi for help in research due to his experience in researching.
“I find it appalling that Jas who has been trying to discredit my criticisms of him and my initiatives by claiming that I simply want to be involved with everything and do all the work, is now trying to claim that I have done very little work,” he wrote in an email interview.
“If Jas truly thinks horseplay is grounds for impeachment, then how is it that he somehow finds hitting another board member acceptable?” commented Mirsalehi.
Randhawa stated that, while he had been working and attempting to find resolutions to the SUB space negotiations between the SFSS and SFPIRG, FNSA, and SOCA, Wyant had persuaded directors “to speak out against providing these groups space.”
“I soon came to realize that I was no longer okay with Martin drafting all of my responses to student groups as they were upsetting a lot of people on campus,” wrote Randhawa.
Rihani responded to Randhawa’s allegations on behalf of Wyant. “All options agreed upon by the board are voted by the majority,” wrote Rihani. “Even during that period, Jas and I would agree almost unanimously on all decisions regarding space.”
“It’s clear that Jas and Martin actually had a great relationship,” added Rihani. “For Jas to be our main liaison and be in charge of communicating issues to our team, yet never raise a single concern about ANY of the mentioned parties until he was pressured during the impeachment process? This tells the board that his decision against Martin isn’t because he genuinely believes Martin has caused harm to our board in space negotiation, but rather a politically driven move to appear as though he has been advocating for these groups since the beginning of his term.”
“I find the motion emotionally motivated, and lacking justification,” wrote Freedman in an email interview responding to Randhawa’s proposed motion to impeach him.
“[Randhawa’s] interpretation [of society by-laws] has been incorrect on a number of occasions, and I have acted in accordance with society by-laws in every aspect of my position and throughout this difficult impeachment process,” Freedman continued.
Freedman commented that Randhawa’s allegations were “particularly interesting [. . .] considering a number of incidents throughout the first part of the semester involving his failure to consult the board of directors before spending student dollars unnecessarily.” Freedman referred to an incident in which Randhawa failed to consult the board before spending $1,125 on a Vantage Point board development session.
“The board votes on passing money via majority,” wrote Rihani.
“If [Randhawa] had a concern with the spending of student dollars via the board… he’d have to try and impeach all of us, himself included.” – Samer Rihani, VP student services
Rihani has since commented that the SFSS is currently in talks with the groups mentioned in Randhawa’s motions to “clear up some of the confusion between our President and the rest of the board.”
“Making petitions that promise space to groups that don’t even fall under the jurisdiction of a single board member is not only using these groups to individual advantage, but it’s disrespecting their ability to work out proper and fair deals with the SFSS,” wrote Rihani.
FNSA and SFPIRG declined to comment on Randhawa’s motions as they pertained to the organizations. SOCA confirmed that they were still seeking space in the SUB.
Questions raised regarding petition legitimacy
Mirsalehi alleged that some of the signatures Randhawa has been obtaining for his petition were being gathered illegally.
Mirsalehi provided screenshots to The Peak, showing text message conversations in which Randhawa had offered to sign individuals’ initials onto the petition, as evidence that student signatures onto the petition were being forged.
“If the pictures attached are truly indicative of how support is being gathered, than not only is the petition invalid, but also raises further questions of how far Jas and/or his supporters are willing to go to keep power and questions the validity of any of their actions,” wrote Mirsalehi.
Randhawa responded that all students that he had asked to sign the petition were informed on the contents of the document. “It is perfectly legal to initial someone else’s name onto the petition, with consent and permission. [. . .] Forgery is a crime if the signing is with intent to defraud,” he wrote.