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Dorimain accused of posing as a U of O student to boost SFUO’s image

Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) executive coordinator Vanessa Dorimain is alleged to have created a fake Facebook account under the name of Gabriella Auguste to boost the SFUO’s online image.

The allegation comes from popular Facebook meme page, Beloved SFUO Overlords, who claim the account—which was created in January of 2018—has been used to promote SFUO interests by Dorimain posing as a U of O student.

“This account is active in shilling for the SFUO on Facebook and especially this page, saying student’s votes don’t matter and calling them white supremacists,” the page wrote in a Facebook post.

Beloved SFUO Overlords claim that the image used as Gabriella Auguste’s profile picture was stolen from Twitter account, @TheCleopatraLee, which posted the photo in April 2017, and that the phone number associated with the account belongs to Dorimain. The Fulcrum can confirm that the number belonged to Dorimain as of August 2018. The Fulcrum confirmed at the time of the interview that her phone number has since changed.

Dorimain responded to the allegations in an interview to the Fulcrum, claiming she had not created the page or make the comments associated with it.

“The comments under this page are not my own. To be tied to being somebody who did make these comments automatically without a verification is problematic.”

Dorimain claims she was aware that a Facebook profile was made using her phone number, as she gave it to someone she knew to create a page to hide their identity to campaign for something on campus without fear of harassment or violence, however she says she was not aware of the ways it was being used.

“I was not aware that this was the page that was created under my phone number nor was I aware of the comments that were made under this page. Myself I try to stay away from a lot of social media things because of the violence and the threats that I’ve gotten from it.”

According to Dorimain, she was told in late fall by the person who created the page that her number was public on the profile and that it was recognized by someone who had it. She says she told them to stop using the page once she found out how it was being used.

“I immediately told them to stop using the page, and it has not been used since then.”

“I’ll take full responsibility for that, I’m a grown adult, I gave my number, so I understand the implications that come with that. I just was not aware in advance of what happened with the account as of now,” she said.

Dorimain refused to reveal the identity of the person she gave her number to, or whether or not they were a part of the SFUO.

“I don’t understand the relevance or correlation to the SFUO exactly,” Dorimain told the Fulcrum in an interview. “I think there should have been a lot more questions asked before something like that was to be made public.”

This comes following the referendum debates where a student accused SFUO staff of creating fake Facebook accounts for the same reason.

At the time, acting president Paige Booth declared that she “can’t control what anybody does or creates in terms of Facebook profiles.”

“I, myself, have not created a fake Facebook profile. But this is why it’s so important that students are separating the institution from the individuals.”

Booth added “This could happen to any institution, in any union, with any person who wants to create a Facebook profile. So I don’t really see the relevance of it.”

In a more recent interview, she added, “In no way does the SFUO condone the creation of any fake profiles or pages.”

“I didn’t know they were going to take someone’s identity, that they were going to say other things beyond what they had spoken to me about, which I did speak to them about was very wrong, but they did ask to be protected with an account for something that was happening a year ago.”

Booth says she was also made aware of the page in the late Fall and addressed it with the person involved.

“I think it’s more of a personal issue, more than an institutional issue, it wasn’t anything that was said by the SFUO to  students or done by the SFUO to students, it was a specific individual,” Dorimain said.

—With files from Eric Davison.

This article has been updated to include responses from Vanessa Dorimain and Paige Booth.