Leaked Closed Session Tapes Reveal Controversy as CSU Council Awards Max Bonus to Former Academic and Advocacy Exec
Councillors Voted by Secret Ballot to Boost Patrick Quinn’s Bonus From 1 to 10% in Unusual Decision
Editor's note: Read Patrick Quinn's response to this story here.
In a closed session meeting, the Concordia Student Union council voted to retroactively increase former academic and advocacy coordinator Patrick Quinn’s bonus from the one per cent awarded by the previous council to 10 per cent, the maximum allowed.
Councillors in attendance at the closed session meeting on July 8 argued Quinn was awarded one per cent due to poor performance and issues surrounding two Judicial Board complaints.
The motion to increase Quinn’s bonus was brought by councillor Tzvi Hersh Filler, who was also on the previous council as of the mid-year by-election.
The vote was done by secret ballot at Filler’s request, and Quinn—now the president of the Political Science Student Association—was invited into the closed session for the discussion, at the request of councillor James Hanna.
“I do not know why I was awarded a one per cent bonus, nor do I care,” Quinn told The Link. “A bonus does not define the quality of my work, just of what councillors think of me.”
The unusual decision will be revisited at this evening’s CSU meeting, at which council will consider a motion to reverse it.
Two Judicial Board complaints
Quinn faced two Judicial Board complaints during his mandate.
The first describes a verbally abusive confrontation from Quinn toward councillor Hannah Jamet-Lange on February 12.
The complaint states Quinn confronted Jamet-Lange after a Feb. 12 council meeting, accompanied by Christopher Kalafatidis, general coordinator at the time and a close ally of Quinn, and Danielle Vandolder-Beaudin. Both are now councillors.
The Judicial Board ruled Quinn made inappropriate remarks and exhibited unprofessional conduct and disrespectful behaviour.
In a recording of the incident, Quinn can be heard raising his voice at Jamet-Lange, insisting she “own up” to calling for an impeachment of Kalafatidis.
Jamet-Lange noted in her complaint to the Judicial Board that nine other councillors had also called for the impeachment.
In the recording, Quinn can be heard saying the call for impeachment was “high-school drama with the mean girls.”
Jamet-Lange told Quinn she did play a role in the call for impeachment and they would discuss it at the special council meeting on March 1.
“Fuck off, Hannah,” Quinn replied.
Jamet-Lange felt intimidated by Quinn. “I’ve had multiple panic attacks and was scared of entering the office for a while,” Jamet-Lange told The Link.
The Judicial Board ruled on May 10, 2020, that Quinn acted in contravention of the CSU’s code of conduct.
Quinn was issued a temporary suspension for the 2020-2021 mandate from all entitlements and functions related to the CSU effective June 2020. He was also ordered to provide a formal written apology to Jamet-Lange for inappropriate conduct.
The other Judicial Board complaint, received April 12, was filed by current general coordinator Isaiah Joyner and student life coordinator Eduardo Malorni regarding social media posts against them by Quinn and Kalafatidis. The four were all members of the previous executive and slate.
The Judicial Board determined the posts made by Kalafatidis and Quinn during their mandates “demonstrated a lack of professional and respectful conduct towards the student union,” and represented a “clear misuse of the union’s position.”
The posts had to be removed and a formal apology was mandated to be given to Joyner and Malorni. To date, this apology has not been made.
Quinn’s bonus revisited by new council
“I don’t know the exact reason why it was brought back up, but from my understanding, council was closely divided on the issue at the end of my mandate, and some people felt the issue of my bonus was not settled,” Quinn told The Link.
“Bonuses are decided by the opinions of councillors. There is no rubric in how bonuses are calculated,” he said.
The remaining nine per cent of the bonus is worth $3,187.42.
“I was not in the discussions about my bonus the first or the second time. Both were discussed in closed session,” Quinn said, addressing the possibility that the Judicial Board rulings played a role in him receiving a one per cent bonus.
Quinn did not address whether the rulings were part of the July 8 meeting, stating both discussions took place in closed session and are “strictly confidential.”
Unusual presence of an executive at a bonus discussion
Despite apparently recusing himself from the vote, Kalafatidis said at the July 8 meeting he felt it was important for Quinn to be present for the discussion.
Joyner said executives are normally out of the room during bonus discussions and that the interview should be conducted in open session, with the vote in closed session.
Quinn requested the discussion be done in closed session.
Filler added that “a lot of ‘insane’ accusations were levied against [Quinn] and the ability [for Quinn] to clarify is important.”
When Malorni asked Filler why he made this motion, Filler responded he would prefer to discuss the matter in closed session.
Councillor Ahmadou Sakho said he would prefer Quinn not be present as the council would debate Quinn’s bonus.
When asked how long he was present, Quinn said he was there to motivate for the bonus amendment in closed session, answered questions from councillors, and left before council discussed it.
“Patrick was there to add context, explaining why he should receive a bonus from a council who did not work with him last year,” said CSU chair Caitlin Robinson.
“It is quite an unusual situation,” she added.
“I have never experienced an executive bonus being given out by a subsequent council. Patrick is correct that there is no standard procedure but it is customary for executives to leave the room willingly when their performance is being discussed.”
Closed session recordings
A recording of the closed session meeting on July 8 was leaked to The Link.
In the recording, Quinn seems to connect his reduced bonus to the Judicial Board rulings, admitting the rulings played a role.
Quinn then asserted his bonus was decided unfairly as he disagreed with how Judicial Board made its decisions.
Quinn said the first case was unfair in that he was not provided with the evidence used against him in order for him to adequately defend himself, and the other because his punishment was based in part on the previous ruling.
Quinn’s arguments regarding the Judicial Board rulings were not based on the accusations levied against him.
When asked by Joyner if he was claiming the accusations were false, Quinn responded he “could not possibly know,” as he claims the Judicial Board ruling did not allow him proper defence.
If the complainant objects to evidence being sent to the respondent, the Judicial Board omits the evidence when forwarding the complaint, according to Shai Navi, chair of the Judicial Board.
“If the Judicial Board finds a piece of evidence can lead to future prejudice against a complainant or a respondent, we may omit it from the final decision,” said Navi.
Quinn mentioned that financial committee minutes used as evidence against him weren’t provided to him. the minutes are sent to every executive and councillor in the CSU.
Quinn also said in the closed session meeting that he could not appeal the ruling as there was no ombudsperson.
Malorni, the former chair of the Appointments Committee, stated it was Quinn’s responsibility as academic and advocacy coordinator to advise the Appointments Committee that an ombudsperson needed to be appointed.
Malorni told council no such notification was received from Quinn.
“You can decide what my bonus is. I really don’t care because a bonus for me does not decide the value of the work that I’ve done in my year at the CSU.” – Patrick Quinn
Quinn addresses council in closed session
“You can decide what my bonus is. I really don’t care because a bonus for me does not decide the value of the work that I’ve done in my year at the CSU,” Quinn said in closed session.
“Quite frankly, I’m quite proud of the work that I did.”
He went on to cite his accomplishments, claiming having rewritten the entire standing regulations with the policy committee, passing the referendum on fall reading week, being part of the online opt-out implementation process, working with Kalafatidis to “increase the contract for bathrooms,”and the U-Pass report.
“The bonus doesn’t really matter to me, what I do take issue with is the council deciding a bonus based on something that was decided illogically, and I didn’t have the opportunity to respond to that.”
Some councillors seemed concerned this was being brought up in the new council, after the budget had already been decided.
Sustainability coordinator Manuela Simo said it was “weird” that Quinn would come to the meeting now, as his mandate had already finished.
“I feel like since it was a last-year issue, council already talked about it and JB already made a decision. I don’t understand why the issue has to be brought back here today, in this year’s mandate.
“If we decide today he deserves to have his bonus, where would that money come from?” Simo asked, adding this year’s budget doesn’t cover bonuses from last year.
“It was already budgeted for last year’s budget so the budgetary impact is nil,” Filler said.
“That’s not how budgets work,” Joyner interjected. “The budget from last year is done, it’s closed. Now we have a new budget, so the budgetary impact is not nil. It would have an impact on this year’s budget.”
“It’s being brought up now because a few of us, especially from last year, believed it was unfair for council to make the decision that the code-of-conduct stuff accounted for 90 per cent of performance,” said Hanna.
Hanna disputed the relevance of the Judicial Board complaints and described the one per cent bonus as a slap in the face before being cut off for time.
Hanna added that while Judicial Board rulings should count for something, they should not be worth as much as 90 per cent unless “major wrongdoing” was uncovered.
Challenging Quinn’s claims
“I have never, as chair of the appointments committee, received notification that [Quinn] needed an ombudsperson, from him or anyone else,” said Malorni.
“That was on him,” Malorni said.
Malorni reminded council that Harvin Hilaire appealed a Judicial Board decision without an ombudsperson.
According to Navi, an appeal can be pursued with an ombudsperson or at council, which can reverse a Judicial Board ruling if it concludes with a fourth-fifths majority that the decision was manifestly unreasonable or motivated by racism, sexism, collusion, bribery, homophobia, or conflict of interest.
Malorni challenged Quinn’s argument that the punishment was unfounded, as whether or not Quinn was guilty of these complaints was not being factored in by Quinn.
Kalafatidis accused Malorni of being in a conflict of interest with Quinn due to an “inability to speak neutrally on this topic.”
“Chris Kalafatidis is best friends with Patrick Quinn and should not vote on this motion,” responded Malorni, who added that Vandolder-Beaudin, Hersh, and James are best friends of Patrick.
“These are serious accusations,” said Filler.
The Chair advised that while being best friends might not be a serious accusation, any conflict of interest should be declared. She then explained the conflict-of-interest policies and situations for council.
Kalafatidis announced that he was a longtime friend of Quinn and would abstain from voting.
As the vote was done by secret ballot, the abstention could not be confirmed.
Vandolder-Beaudin, who is in a relationship with Kalafatidis, did not declare an abstention.
“I’d like to bring to everybody’s attention that Eduardo and Patrick got into a scuffle at the end of last year over the statement Patrick released where he—and I, as part of this statement—was criticizing Isaiah and Eduardo for not keeping true to their campaign promises,” Kalafatidis told council.
Kalafatidis said Malorni’s comments about Quinn having an employee gather signatures for a project were untrue and upsetting, proceeding to say he would “let it go” if Malorni would not speak any more on the matter.
Quinn “sometimes has emotional outbursts and sometimes isn’t the nicest to people, [but] he did work very hard,” Kalafatidis said.
Kalafatidis said even having an executive relationship could be an issue, as working with someone could make you think “very highly or low” of them, influenced by working interactions, presumably implying he felt Malorni and Joyner, former colleagues, should also recuse themselves from discussing Quinn’s bonus.
Filler’s motivation for Quinn’s bonus is met with objections
“An assertion was made earlier that I am Patrick’s friend,” began Filler in his motivation for Quinn to receive his bonus.
He clarified that they were “not particularly friendly” and almost all their interactions were in the context of the CSU.
Filler claimed Quinn did not receive his bonus before the last council because it was perceived he did not serve the previous council well, but argued that Quinn did serve students themselves well.
Filler launched into personal anecdotes about his interactions with Quinn from when he began as a councillor halfway through Quinn’s mandate.
“The one which meant the most to me personally was the one at one in the morning. I got a message from a fellow Jewish student saying ‘OMG, my exam’s on Passover, what do I do now? And like they cancelled all the alternates, there’s no one to talk to,’ and I was like ‘Here’s Chris and Patrick, they’ll figure it out for you.’”
Filler did not say whether they themselves resolved the issue for the student, nor if the university had failed to follow its policies on religious holidays and examination exemption conditions.
“We used our excellent relationship with the university administration to push for more accommodations for students,” said Quinn. “In this situation, I did that. I also directed the student to the CSU Advocacy Centre so they could work with the student with their individual problem.” This kind of intervention fell within his scope of duties, he said.
“The argument that some ‘bad people’ or however you want to paint them, made a decision last year to not give somebody a bonus—that was the decision of last year’s council,” Joyner said.
Joyner added that to have members of last year’s executive and council come to this year’s council, which does not have the background knowledge and experience of working with Quinn, is to try to pitch it to them.
Joyner reiterated that the councillors in the room hadn’t been through last year and thus had no context.
“Right now we are listening literally to anecdotes, where there’s no real facts. Everything’s subjective,” Joyner said.
“To ask them to allocate a financial amount that’s not from last year, from this year, our current budget—we don’t know how it’s going to go—is for me the definition of financial mismanagement.”
Joyner said he was not there to speak to who did and did not deserve a bonus but that the time had passed.
“We’re working on the audit. We can’t pick and choose when we want to be financially savvy,” Joyner added, saying they went through a strenuous process of budget analysis.
Councillor S. Shivaane said it should be a conflict of interest for councillors who were very professionally close to Quinn to bring it back to a council that did not work with Quinn last year.
“Who’s opinion was it that the JB rulings were the only reason Patrick got one per cent? I was at that meeting, and, without giving anything away, there was much more than was discussed about that, which the current executive mentioned just now,” Shivaane said.
“It’s very irresponsible to discuss this in closed session, and even more dishonest to have nothing but past councillors’ words and anecdotes and no personal experience to decide on this bonus.”
People who worked with Quinn weigh in on his achievements
Quinn sat on no committees for a fall reading week, which former student-at-large and current academic and advocacy coordinator Sarah Mazhero brought to the university before Quinn’s mandate. Other achievements claimed by Quinn were contested by people involved in the projects.
The U-Pass report, which Quinn claims to have done, was “done completely by Erin Campbell, not by himself,” Malorni said in closed session.
In a statement to The Link, Quinn disputed this statement saying he researched and co-wrote the report with Campbell. He also said he initiated contact with the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain and spoke with the Vice-President of the Société de transport de Montréal, as well as receiving the support of the University in the CSU’s bid to negotiate with the ARTM
“All he did was present a referendum question—very similarly for fall reading week—but did not actually do any work with it,” Malorni added. “Isaiah and Sarah are on the committee, not him.”
Malorni claims all Quinn’s policies almost failed to pass and Quinn presented to council the things he’s done well, not the things he’s done wrong.
“I think it’s extremely disrespectful to all of last year’s council for doing this because they worked with Patrick; very few people here worked with Patrick,” Malorni said before being interrupted.
Senate meeting minutes reveal that in a meeting on March 15, 2019, prior to the election of Quinn, Mazhero had already presented a fall reading week to the university.
Senate minutes from Sept. 13, 2019, show provost Anne Whitelaw addressing the report by the Fall Reading Week Working Group, which Quinn was not part of.
“It’s a big fat no,” Mazhero replied when asked whether Quinn was part of any committee regarding fall reading week.
Quinn’s contribution was to summarize the project to council for approval, per the council minutes. He also collected the signatures necessary for the referendum, which was a campaign promise of Cut The Crap
In his comments to The Link, Quinn cited the Senate and Board of Governors eligibility requirements as a file he made significant progress on.
“No further work, to my knowledge, was done by the incoming executives as neither were on the ad-hoc committee that drafted the recommendations—they approved when they came across the Senate floor,” said Sophie Hough-Martin, general coordinator in 2018-2019.
Hough-Martin said the Ad-Hoc Committee on Senate Eligibility Requirements did not meet after May 2019, as they reached a conclusion on the topic of the final by-law requirements.
“I signed off with Mikaela in July 2019 on the final report draft. The reason this decision was passed in September 2019 and not May 2019 was simply due to administrative timelines,” Hough-Martin explained.
“The student senators successfully passed the senate eligibility requirements at the September Senate meeting, despite significant opposition from faculty members,” Quinn said, adding the vote was very tight and the result of a team effort by the CSU Academic Caucus.
He expressed gratitude for the work of Hough-Martin and Mikaela Clark-Gardner, acknowledging the two laid the groundwork.
“To the contrary, yes there was work to do,” Quinn said regarding his role. He described getting the proposal passed by the Concordia Senate as a “significant hurdle.”
“Without the support of myself and the 11 other student senators, Senate eligibility would have only been a proposal and not actual policy.”
For international student health insurance, also in the list of files Quinn said he made “significant progress on,” some claim no such progress had been made.
“Last year the general, academic and advocacy, and finance coordinators met with our general manager and Studentcare to continue structuring the proposal to have the university give CSU the international student health plan portfolio,” said Joyner.
“The proposal would have saved international students hundreds of dollars a year but unfortunately was denied by the university at the beginning of this mandate,” Joyner said.
“Chris, Desiree, and I worked with Studentcare diligently to get the international student health plan under the CSU control,” Quinn argued to The Link.
“The referendum question the CSU presented in April received 86% approval. Due to confidentiality reasons, I cannot comment further.”
Quinn told The Link he also contributed to rewriting the regulations of the CSU.
The policy committee meeting minutes show Quinn presenting 15 policies, only six of which passed.
While Quinn took partial credit for pass/fail being implemented at Concordia as well as stopping online proctoring during the COVID-19 pandemic, no evidence was found linking Quinn or the CSU to either of these university decisions.
“Due to the nature of our relationship [with the administration], a lot of what was done was done behind the scenes and behind closed doors,” he said regarding evidence of his work on this file.
He claimed he and Kalafatidis met with provost Anne Whitelaw and President Graham Carr twice a week from March to May to address issues facing undergraduates students.
External coordinator Victoria Pesce said the discussion itself was disrespectful to those who worked with Quinn last year.
“This was a student leader. If we are condoning this behavior, that’s news to me because I didn’t know I was allowed to speak to the councillors in that manner. I didn’t know I was allowed to scream at them, because I was disrespected in manners where I would have lashed out, but I bit my tongue because I was a student leader,” Pesce said.
“What happened has caused trauma, has caused an impact and that impact cannot be devalued.”
“I want to reiterate, I was the one that was yelled at and the ruling is public,” Jamet-Lange said in the meeting.
She said Quinn’s job was to serve students, but other members of council and executives are also students. If Quinn was creating an unsafe environment for councillors, he would not be fulfilling his duties, if others could not comfortably work, she added.
Jamet-Lange said the annual survey data was not released yet, contrary to what Quinn said.
“The annual survey received over twice the amount of responses from the 2019 survey,” said Quinn. “I imagine it will be released in the fall semester due to the capable hands of my replacement, Sarah. However, that is out of my control.”
“A lot of the work he said he did, like the policies, were done really late,” said Jamet-Lange of Quinn’s work. “According to the motion presented in June of last year, he was going to have the policies done by September, but only handed in the work in May, the last meeting of our mandate,” said Jamet-Lange of Quinn’s work.
She claims this shows he did not do his job correctly, as tasks were not completed within an acceptable timeline. Jamet-Lange denied these comments had anything to do with her complaint against Quinn, stating Quinn simply did not do a good job in the capacity he should have.
“He received a bonus, but he should not receive a full bonus because he did not do his job,” said Jamet-Lange.
Quinn maintains he is proud of his work rewriting CSU policies.
The meeting concludes with a controversial decision
One of the last councillors to motivate for the awarding of the bonus to Quinn before Filler called for the secret ballot was Vandolder-Beaudin.
Vandolder-Beaudin claimed Quinn felt trauma about “his best friend getting impeached”—akin to the distress Jamet-Lange felt when Quinn yelled at her, she said.
Vandolder-Beaudin said Jamet-Lange had signed the impeachment and people present at the July 8 meeting expressed concerns about the bonus being awarded to Quinn may have also signed onto the request to hold impeachment proceedings against Kalafatidis.
Only one sitting council member with voting rights who signed the impeachment was present at the June 8 meeting about Quinn’s bonus.
“Do we have the right to do this?” Vandolder-Beaudin asked the attendees.
“We are the council, we can make this decision,” she said. “We can grant money to people and this is what this is. This is our decision and we have the finances for it.” However, section 14.4 of the Finance and Operations Policy states that bonuses are to be awarded at the May regular meeting.
That specific policy was passed at a meeting where Kalafatidis, Filler, Hanna, and Quinn were present, indicating they are aware bonuses were to be awarded in May.
A special council meeting on July 23 will bring the motion back to the table in light of the apparent contravention.
A previous version of this article’s subhead erroneously stated that Patrick Quinn was awarded a nine per cent bonus. In fact, it was a 10 per cent bonus. The Link regrets this error.