BREAKING: GSA confirms issues prior to “slave” joke
As of Jan. 9, Veritas Café has re-opened, with a new manager, altered menu and fresh look.
On Dec. 12, The Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association terminated its contract with Sandor Dosman, operator of Veritas Café, which is located in the quad, beside the GSA office. His termination was a result of a help wanted ad that Dosman posted on social media. The ad read, ““I need a new slave (full time staff member) to boss (mentor) around at Veritas Café!”
After the termination, news outlets across Ontario began reporting on the situation and GSA president, Samantha Deeming, was harassed via social media for being “too sensitive” or unable to “take a joke.” Deeming’s emails were and still are being monitored by Waterloo Regional Police.
As a result, both the GSA and the university refused to make any further statements and acknowledged that legal agreements kept them from speaking about the situation.
This morning, Veritas Café was busy with people as they handed out free coffee to celebrate their opening after the brief hiatus. Patrick McMahon, new manager of Veritas Café, said he is excited to be back on Laurier’s campus, as he was the restaurant and catering manager of Wilf’s five years ago. McMahon also currently runs the Woodstock Farmers Market.
“The mission was to get the space back open to the students,” McMahon said.
“What I do … is I bring local food, fresh food, from sustainable sources. We try not to use … big corporations in my business plan so that we’re always supporting small businesses. In terms of what we’re doing for our staff, [we’re] paying a living wage. We’re just trying to be a positive space on campus for both students and staff.”
Deeming explained that McMahon’s name was passed on by university partners as a person the university can trust to get the ball rolling.
Deeming also explained that the GSA will now be running Veritas as a social enterprise. “We’re not looking at the bottom line of profits and any profits that we do make, go right back into the graduate student community. We’re looking for different ways that we can spend those funds, in terms of scholarships, bursaries, providing food programs for graduate students specifically through Veritas … as well as a GSA initiative was providing staff with living wages, again because we’re not looking at that bottom line of profit.”
Deeming, who received a tremendous amount of negative feedback for the GSA’s decision to terminate Dosman’s contract, said those in place at Laurier who offer assistance when experiencing gendered violence offered her excellent support.
“A lot of the comments that were made privately to myself contained language surrounding the fact that I was a woman. That was difficult. Very difficult,” she said.
The decision to terminate the contract, Deeming explained, was not made as quickly as some may assume. The GSA had several meetings and consulted legal counsel before terminating Dosman’s contract.
“In a non-for-profit government structure, there are obviously policies in place … multiple people go into making decisions like this. It’s not just one individual,” Deeming explained.
Another factor that Deeming clarified was that there were prior issues with Dosman himself before he posted the ad. While the majority of the community’s response to his termination has been that the decision was made too quickly or without a second chance, Deeming explained that second chances had already been made.
When asked if there was a reason for Dosman receiving more than just a slap on the wrist, Deeming said, “Yes. And then what I can say is that we protect the confidentiality of all the people that were involved and that’s about all I can say towards that.”
Deeming also talked about how this issue will start a larger conversation about tolerance and inclusivity on Laurier’s campus.
“A lot of our members are looking for us to make a stance on social justice and protecting the rights of minorities and underrepresented groups. Not saying that that’s the reason why this decision was made, in any means, but we look at that larger picture as well and that community feel that everyone is equal on campus. A joke, to someone, might have hurt someone else and that doesn’t make it right,” Deeming said.
This story will be added to and published in full in the Wednesday, Jan. 11 issue of The Cord.