Allegations by VP university affairs prompt threat of legal action by president against six parties

On Wednesday, March 22, the Fulcrum received a notice of action from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) current president, Roméo Ahimakin. This notice alleges defamation by six different parties, including three executives, one incoming Board of Administration (BOA) member, a proxy, and the Fulcrum.

The notice lists current SFUO vice-president of university affairs Vanessa Dorimain, current vice-president social and incoming president Hadi Wess, current vice-president equity Morissa-Dalhia Ellis, Dorimain’s proxy for the publicly held March 5 Board of Administration (BOA) meeting Faduma Wais, and incoming BOA Faculty of Science representative Michel Antoun.

Ahimakin’s allegations of defamation stem from a public executive update given by Dorimain at the March 5 BOA meeting, where she alleged that Ahimakin “is a violent misogynistic person who likes to control his surroundings,” and “shuts down women and tries to overpower in most if not all conversations.”

“He has put his hands in my face like he was going to hit me, he has yelled at me, been dismissive to my concerns, ignored directives on how to support, missed important meetings with me and other stakeholders on campus or the CFS (Canadian Federation of Students),” Dorimain’s statement further alleges.

These statements by Dorimain have not been proven, and are vehemently denied by Ahimakin as being false and defamatory.

Wais is listed in the notice of action for reading the report during the BOA meeting as a proxy for Dorimain, who was not present at the meeting.

Incoming SFUO president Wess has been named in the notice for adding to Dorimain’s allegations by saying that “it’s been extremely difficult to work with (Ahimakin) for the past few months,” and alleging that Ahimakin “yelled at (Wess) in front of staff.” Wess also alleged that executive meetings have become a very “unsafe space” because “every agenda point has to become an argument with (Ahimakin).”

As with the statements made by Dorimain, these statements by Wess have not been proven and are strongly denied by Ahimakin.

The notice also mentions Ellis, who alleged during the meeting that there were moments where she was “silenced by the president,” as well as “laughed at” and “tone policed.” Again, these statements are strongly denied by Ahimakin.

In addition, Antoun is named in the notice for live streaming the public sessions of the BOA meeting via Facebook. It was during this live stream that Wais made the statement in question on Dorimain’s behalf.

Finally, the Fulcrum was listed in the notice of legal action for publishing quotes from Dorimain’s statement in coverage of the March 5 BOA meeting. The Fulcrum can confirm that all allegations quoted in the original article were in fact made during the meeting, as they have been cross-referenced with Antoun’s video recording of the meeting.

Ahimakin, contacted via his lawyer, did not provide comment to the Fulcrum by the time of this publication. His conditions for a comment were that the Fulcrum interview all executives named in the notice, obtain comment from a witness to the executives’ comments, and provide an “admission” of unfair reporting in the article in question. All parties named in the notice declined to comment to the Fulcrum on the matter.