Privacy Breached in Mandatory CSU Consent Training

Audio Recording of Conversations Leaked by Councillor James Hanna

Concordia Student Union councillor James Hanna published a recording of an altercation between himself and Internal Affairs Coordinator Princess Somefun, which took place during mandatory consent training. Photo Elaine Genest

On Oct. 25 Concordia Student Union councillor James Hanna published a recording of an altercation between himself and Internal Affairs Coordinator Princess Somefun, which took place during mandatory consent training.

This is part two of series about consent training at the CSU gone awry. Click here to read part one.

The recording of the training in late September was posted on his Soundcloud as well as his Facebook profiles. On Sept. 12, an anonymous email address sent the same recording to The Link.

Hanna would neither “confirm nor deny” that he recorded the conversation, though he later sent The Link a copy of the recording from his personal email address on Oct. 1.

Hanna said the audio reflects the aftermath of an altercation where Hanna said that because not enough women come forward to report sexual assault, the justice system isn’t able do its job properly. He said as a result this could end in lynch mobs taking vigilante actions against alleged rapists.

In the recording, Somefun attempts to explain that Hanna’s use of the word “lynching” was harmful towards her. She also said his argument blamed survivors and demanded an apology.

Hanna tried to defend himself and refused to apologize because he argued he wasn’t at fault. He said he wasn’t trying to be racist or blame victims, but that he was trying to say that lynchings were bad.

The Sexual Assault Resource Centre’s facilitator Shayna Hadley was also present, and attempted to mediate the situation between the two.

Councillors Sophie Beauchamp, Chris Kalafatidis, Rowan Gaudet were also present, along with former councillor Alex Karasick and Sustainability Coordinator Akira De Carlos.

Somefun and councillors Beauchamp and Gaudet said releasing the audio publicly breaches the confidentiality necessary for a productive consent training.

“I would assume that since we’re saying ‘safe space’ and we’re talking about something so personal, that people would respect that sanctity,” Somefun said.

Hadley told The Link that she “personally has been very affected by the non-consensual recording of this confidential session,” and that “workshops on sexual violence are one small part of the larger picture and are meant to be a conversation starter and a point of reflection.”

“They are meant to be a safe place where participants can comfortably share their perspectives in an open environment,” she wrote.

Beauchamp was not aware that a recording of the conversation existed previous to an interview with The Link.

“This is a big breach of privacy,” she said. “It is a space where people can share more stories and opinions about consent. Since it is a really delicate subject it’s not okay. We’re talking about consent … So recording without consent is a bit sketchy.”

She added that whoever recorded the audio could easily pick and choose which parts of the conversation seem more relevant to the case they are trying to make while omitting other bits.

“We don’t have on record the first comment made about lynching which was totally not okay,” she said. “I don’t think that’s really cool and there’s tension in council, it’s not hidden, and this just adds to the tension.”

Kalafatidis, however, feels that the outline of what consists a “safe space” is not clearly defined and that no one has precised that you are not allowed to record conversations or speak about what was discussed at the workshop.

“The only reason I would care is if it was something confidential or closed session, and from my understanding that was public,” he said. “If that’s what we want as a community a safe space to be, I think that’s probably for the best, but I think it should be included in what we describe a safe space as.”

Though no confidentiality contract was signed and therefore no rules were broken, Beauchamp feels that there’s an unwritten expectation to not record each other without consent in sensitive situations.

Facebook Rant Videos

Hanna has become notorious for posting rant videos on his official Facebook page.

On Sept. 28, Hanna live-streamed himself talking about the CSU’s consent training. He condemned the executive team for not letting him pass the consent training and asking him to do additional training.

In the video, he gives a detailed account of the altercation between Somefun and himself and said he would soon release the audio of said altercation.

In the same video, he continuously defended his use of the word lynching in the altercation and claimed executives were threatening him with his seat. He also claimed that Somefun had a personal vendetta against him.

He concluded the video by saying, “Basically, come at me bro.”

“To have someone not only violate a safe space by not giving a crap about privacy but consciously using that kind of language and making a video about it is beyond disgusting,” Somefun said.

Kalafatidis said that he doesn’t believe it’s right that Hanna would name drop Somefun in a public video about the altercation, but that ultimately he feels attacked all the time and “that’s just how he feels.”

“This is a big breach of privacy. It is a space where people can share more stories and opinions about consent. Since it is a really delicate subject it’s not okay. We’re talking about consent, so recording without consent is a bit sketchy.” — Sophie Beauchamp, CSU Councillor

In his video and subsequent Facebook posts, Hanna wrote also “I am no criminal, I have committed no crime, I have done nothing wrong, I will not be punished. I will not take a lesser punishment when I shouldn’t even be punished to begin with. I will not be bullied and I will not stand idly by while my good name is slandered.”

The same words have been used by Mark Meechan, a Scottish man who taught his girlfriend’s pug to lift its paw to the phrases “gas the jews” and “Sieg Heil.” After posting videos of the dog complying to his commands, Meechan was later charged with a £800 fine failed to appeal his conviction to the High Court. Since his conviction, the Youtuber has joined the UK Independance Party, according to The Independant. The UKIP is a right-wing populist party with over 23000 members as of August 2018.

Beauchamp said that if Hanna wants to be a spokesperson, he has to be able to face the consequences.

“He can’t say that the bad relations he has with people is because everyone is left-wing, which isn’t the case at all, and overall be a jerk and expect people to have a good relationship with him,” she said.

Hanna said that he wouldn’t have made a video had the executives not sent him messages saying they wouldn’t be counting his consent training hours.

“He is actively violating safe spaces and isn’t at all holding himself accountable but has no problem trying to shame and go on a witch hunt, it isn’t okay,” said Somefun. “The executives aren’t just a bunch of banshees screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Bullying Within the CSU

Screenshots of a private group chat leaked to The Link illustrates some of the planning that came before the audio of the consent training was posted publicly to Facebook.

Hanna, Kalafatidis, Karasick, Conservative Concordia member Zackary Bradley and Vice President of Marketing of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers Daniel Ortega all participated in the chat, discussing what they planned to do with the recording of the altercation.

One option included sending it to the student media with a letter in order to “get control of the narrative,” Hanna wrote.

Kalafatidis suggested Hanna make an image video with the audio. He suggested a photo of James’ face photoshopped on Putin as an option.

Concordia student Vincent Beaudry recommended the use the an unflattering photo of Somefun for the video.

“If you link unhinged behaviour to unflattering imagery you have a very explosive combo,” Beaudry wrote.

“It allows the listener to create bias where they might think this is her normal behaviour. If you take a professional picture it might be believed that she lost her cool and this is not normal. I don’t recommend that. No sympathy for the devil.”

In the same chat Concordia student Jonathan Seifert wrote that he “wants to put horse laxatives in the CSU food.”

This article has been updated to provide more information about Mark Meechan’s involvement with the UK Independance Party.