By: Nathan Hood
At an extraordinary meeting of the UPEISU council on March 18th, SU ombudsperson Sweta Daboo released her findings relating to the notice of a motion of non-confidence against former president Chelsea Perry and the allegations associated with the motion.
Daboo found that board of governors representative Michael Ferguson had sent the notice of motion to the Chair, and that the notice had been supported by health and wellness representative Amy Rix as well as the DVM representative Samantha Begin.
Rix had previously released a letter articulating her position on the issue. At the March 11th Council meeting, Begin had requested the SU’s policy committee to review whether first-year students should be allowed to serve as SU executives.
Daboo then presented her report on the investigation into the allegations against former president Chelsea Perry.
The following is a summary of the investigation’s findings. The full report is available below.
“The President has consistently presented a disregard for rules, laws and regulations that we must adhere to at all times, including Provincial laws. This in regard to businesses operated by the University, within the Student Union Offices as well as at official university events.”
Daboo reported that one major concern was underage drinking. During her interviews with councillors, they cited the acceptance of a drink ticket at a UPEI Faculty Association (UPEIFA) event, doing vodka shots in the SU kitchen following the announcement of election results, and being intoxicated at Beach Blast.
“Actions held by the President do not represent what the Student Union stands for, and shows a strong level of disrespect and disregard for our operations.”
Daboo wrote that Begin made a number claims in support of this allegation. These included that:
- “breaking laws was not promoting a positive image”
- that while “the SU President was supposed to maintain effective relationships with the university,” Perry did not know why the UPEIFA event was being held nor “who most of the faculty members in attendance were,”
- that Perry breached “the SU’s mission of transparency, honesty and accountability” by drinking underage at official events
- that the president “was partaking in actions detrimental to students’ image and professional careers”
“President Perry has an inappropriate presence on certain social media platforms that brings upon a negative representation of the Student Union that does not portray the Union’s values.”
According to Daboo, representatives Ferguson, Rix, Begin, and Kari Kruse said this related to an Instagram “spam account” which contained a joke with racist undertones, “a post making light of rape,” and two posts that projected a negative light on the SU.
One complaint was made to the SU’s general manager about the content, which was followed by a meeting between Perry and the director of communications to discuss a positive social media presence. No complaints were reported after this meeting. None of these posts were found to have been made while Perry was president, and Perry told Daboo that the posts had been deleted.
Begin and Ferguson also said Perry made a post with “passive-aggressive undertones” in the council Facebook group, and Begin further claimed that a CBC interview with Perry contained “misleading information” and that Perry “had twisted points brought forward by councilors.”
“President Perry has displayed unsuitable behaviors in the workplace and at events within the University at which she is a representative of the UPEISU.”
Daboo said the evidence for this allegation were the “lack of professionalism” at the UPEIFA event and going into The Wave, a 19+ space, on election night.
Conversely, Graduate student representative Ashley McKibbon said she had “never personally experienced President Perry acting in a way that [was] non-professional in a professional setting.”
“Perry has had unpleasant interactions with fellow councilors of the UPEISU.”
Daboo’s report cites two incidents from Begin during which she felt uncomfortable. The first was Perry giving Begin a hug when the latter had offered a handshake, which Begin believed “showed a lack of respect of her beliefs and boundaries.” The second was at the UPEIFA event at which Perry asked Begin why she was there. According to the report, Begin said the question “made her feel unimportant.” Perry had issued an open invitation to councillors to the event on multiple occasions.
In her interview with the ombudsperson, Perry explained she had not had “the opportunity to know all the councilors personally” at the time.
Amy Rix raised an issue that Perry had reacted negatively when she discovered “some councilors had been critiquing her work ethic in a group chat.” This allegedly led to a “harsh message” being sent to senate representative Erin MacNeill, although McNeill said that she would not use the incident as grounds to impeach Perry.
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No discussion on the motion of non-confidence took place because the notice had not yet been circulated for a week. Council made no judgement as to whether the allegations are considered substantiated.
Council meets again on March 25th.