In last week’s issue of The Link, the editorial board called for Concordia Student Union (CSU) VP student life and school spirit John Michael Toews’ immediate removal as an executive, claiming that a combination of recent events had led them to believe Toews wasn’t able to manage most of his tasks competently.
While Toews expressed disappointment with The Link’s “politically motivated” editorial, in an interview last week, he claimed that behind every “serious, terrible allegations of abuses” are “silly” or “legitimate” stories for every single event.
Toews says Steve Faguy, The Link’s editor-in-chief, was given permission to use a CSU computer from which he gained unauthorized access to a private CSU e-mail sent by Toews to the rest of the CSU executive.
Toews claimed he learned The Link may be trying to slander his name and detailing all the possible situations where he may have offended someone.
Toews claims this e-mail was stolen by “this member of The Link [who] forwarded the e-mail to himself and ran back to The Link to quote from it.”
Faguy says the information used by the editorial board to write their piece was not obtained from this e-mail and they had already learned about these incidences through other sources.
The editorial claimed Toews had accumulated a list of “benign offenses” and “outright provocative wrongs” which in addition to his “incompetence and long hours of laziness” warranted his being fired.
But, Toews argued The Link interpreted his absence from the CSU offices this summer as lazy while in affect he claims he was meeting with varsity athletics, cleaning out the CSU office at Loyola and meeting with different sponsors for Orientation.
Toews was also accused of allegedly shaking an employee. He explains that after he had admitted to a group of students that he was a bit of a “germophobe,” Craig Desson, who was hired to work for orientation at the time, had jokingly “jumped” him to take a sip of his water bottle, at which point Toews pushed Desson away. Desson corroborated that story but said he couldn’t recall if other students were around.
The Link claims Toews couldn’t be bothered to cancel a “long-awaited ten-day trip to B.C.” and long a weekend trip to New York to work on his most important platform point: Orientation.
But, Toews contends Orientation is not the single most important event (movie nights and the upcoming winter carnival are equally important in his view) and his ticket to B.C. was purchased before Evolution won the elections. During his trip, he claims he made himself available through his cell phone and e-mail and everything ran smoothly.
He boastfully admits that because he hired extra help for Orientation, this year’s Orientation was “the best.”
“I just think it’s ludicrous to say that we shouldn’t be giving students jobs when there are plenty for them and when we have the money to hire them,” argues Toews.
He claims he’d rather acknowledge that people have helped him in order to do a better job.
Against allegations of implementing executive orders on behalf of the executive, Toews again defends his act by saying there had been a misunderstanding between CSU researcher David Bernans and himself.
He claims Bernans approached him to put up posters at Loyola concerning possible illegal rent increases in residence, to which Toews said he couldn’t put them up because the executive hadn’t discussed the issue, saying he didn’t know if CSU President Nathalie Pomerleau had okayed it and if the executive was supporting the issue.
When asked what he thought of this situation, Bernans refused to comment.
But, Adam Slater, who was part of last year’s CanDo CSU executive, says he was in the CSU advocacy centre when Toews walked. According to Slater, Toews walked in the office and said to Bernans he had “ripped all the posters down” and that Bernans was “under strict” orders to not put up any more posters.
Also, the editorial claims that Toews has repeatedly hung up on people during phone conversations. While Toews doesn’t deny he has had to hang up on people, he claims he had tried to “politely disengage” the conversation clearly expressing he had to go but that, in all these instances, CSU councillors on the other end of the line refused to let him go.
In one instance, where CSU off-campus housing and job bank coordinator Christina Xydous and Toews were arguing about the hiring process for the varsity coordinator position, Toews says he told her he had to go because he had another important phone call but that Xydous told him she wanted to deal with it now and wouldn’t hang up, at which point he said goodbye and hung up.
Toews then claims Xydous “fired off a nasty e-mail” in which she says Toews was rude to her. Toews asserts CSU VP administration Justin Ible was in the room with him and can confirm that he wasn’t rude to Xydous.
She claims Toews had called her to ask her the name of the two union delegates to the hiring committee. Xydous told Toews that the union had yet to be formally notified of the CSU’s intention to form this committee. Then, Xydous claims Toews said he had found two employee volunteers to sit on the committee for the position. In trying to explain to him he couldn’t do that, Xydous said Toews hung up on her in mid-sentence.
“At times you have to say ‘Yes, I have a finite amount of time that I work at the CSU and I have to say I can’t help you right now, I have to do this.’ When it comes to choosing between projects, people who are here working for the students, I will always support and work as hard as I can to help them and people who come here to disrespect both me, the CSU and what Evolution is working for … I won’t give them the same amount of time,” explained Toews.
According to Faguy, while The Link did not contact Toews for his take on the allegations and did not feel it had to for the purposes of an editorial.
Faguy said if every incident is taken on its own, then they are probably all perfectly excusable, but it was all these instances combined that made it important to question his competence.
Toews says the executive had sat down to discuss all the issues brought forth in the e-mail and “although I had been harsh with certain people and that I seemed to have pissed off extremely well, for now I’m not accepting their call for resignation.”