Two student federation board members were accused of participating in a conversation that included comments about the sexual assault of their president in a motion presented at the end of reading week.
In a Feb. 23 meeting of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) Board of Administration (BOA), an emergency motion was brought forward to officially “condemn” said members, along with three other participants in the conversation, before any other board issues were addressed.
Shortly before reading week, SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy was anonymously given a copy of an online interaction between the five men that contained a comment that allegedly alluded to a desire to sexually assault her.
“We are condemning the action of board members who have grossly misrepresented the board,” said Nicole Desnoyers, vp equity of the SFUO.
Copies of the conversation were handed out to the board to read, but were reclaimed at the end of the discussion.
One of the participants in the conversation is SFUO vp social Pat Marquis, while another is a faculty representative on the BOA. Two of the other participants are federated body executives.
Marquis apologized to the board that they “had to read that gross conversation.” He declined to comment further on the matter.
The other four men have considered legal action against Roy on the grounds that it was a private conversation that should not have been made public. Roy received a cease and desist letter on the contents of the documents.
Roy said at the meeting that it had become a bigger legal issue than intended, and therefore decided to postpone the discussion until she could obtain legal counsel.
In an interview with the Fulcrum the following day, she said that to her knowledge, the conversation was not intercepted in an illegal manner and that she sees no grounds for legal action.
“There is proof that these are things the guys said. I am not making it up, and they did not deny it in their apology letter,” she said.
“I don’t feel like the guys involved in the conversation have been held accountable, and they’re in a position of leadership on campus where they’re organizing events, they’re responsible for the safety of our members, and this is how they’re talking about women on our campus.”
Roy and the group of men are making attempts to resolve the matter without having to take legal action.
At the board meeting, Katya Moussatova, BOA representative for the Faculty of Social Sciences, said she did not think it was an appropriate venue to discuss a delicate matter with the potential for litigation.
The board decided after an in-camera discussion, when non-members were asked to leave the room, to postpone the vote on whether to condemn the members involved in the online exchange. The chair of the board said the motion will be in “motion purgatory” until it is brought up again.