ASFA Agrees to Go to Mediation in Sexual Harassment Case

The council of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations at Concordia University decided to “fully cooperate” in future mediations with a former executive who experienced sexual and racial harassment from colleagues during her time at the organization, according to a press release sent out Tuesday.

“ASFA takes responsibility for the environment that its members and Mei-Ling (a pseudonym to preserve the victim’s anonymity) experienced during the years in question, including a racially and sexually aggressive atmosphere,” read the statement, which was devised by council.

Mei-Ling filed a complaint against ASFA and the two former executives to the Quebec Human Rights Commission for discrimination and harassment.

A budget of $400 for a lawyer consultation was approved July 6, according to Melina Ghio, the former VP Finance. But at the next council meeting on July 24, councillors voted to agree to Mei-Ling’s demands, which include ASFA paying her $10,000, and developing sensitivity training. Council also voted for independent councillor Mariah Gillis and VP External Jenna Cocullo to represent ASFA in mediation without a lawyer.

In May, Council allocated $6632 leftover from the executive honorarium and bonus budget to be put toward sensitivity training.

During her time at ASFA from 2013 to 2014, Mei-Ling found Facebook conversations about her between former executives, Paul Jerajian and Sean Nolan, that included messages such as, “I’m going to try to fuck her at the first meeting” and “chink slave.”

Nolan resigned in March, while council dismissed Jerajian from his “consultant” position shortly after, following his resignation as president earlier in the year.

At the July 6 meeting, council learned that Ghio, as VP Finance, was partly responsible for withholding Mei-Ling’s honorarium until a meeting with the finance committee to discuss her expenses. Mei-Ling received her $1,500 honorarium in February 2015, although her mandate ended the previous May.

Ghio, who was chair of that committee, said there were financial discrepancies from Mei-Ling’s executive report from the year prior to discuss. The two parties finally met in December 2014 after repeated requests to meet sooner, Ghio added.

The former VP of Finance said that she was unaware of the Facebook messages at the time and made the best decision she could with the information she had.

“It’s the kind of thing when you’re looking back, had I known, maybe I would have decided against it,” she told The Link about her decision to delay giving Mei Ling her honorarium.

At a special council session in May, Ghio successfully passed a motion to annul honorarium that was previously awarded to Jerarjian.

Having been spontaneously elected as interim president at that same meeting, Ghio recently resigned from the position.

Correction: In a previous iteration of this story, it incorrectly stated that Mariah Gillis was still the councillor from Urban Planning Association. She is now an independent councillor. The Link regrets the error.

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