UPEI Student Union to investigate handling of complaint against former SU president

The UPEI Student Union says it will ask its ombudsperson to investigate the student union's handling of a complaint of harassment made against former president Hammad Ahmed.
The UPEI Student Union says it will investigate how it handled a complaint made against a former student union president. The issue was raised by the person who laid the complaint during a student union council meeting on Sunday. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The UPEI Student Union says it will ask its ombudsperson to investigate the student union's handling of a complaint of harassment made against former president Hammad Ahmed.

During a student union council meeting on Sunday broadcast live on the student union's Facebook page, Megan Rix, vice-president of student life, laid out her concerns about what happened after she filed a formal complaint of harassment with the student union against Ahmed.

"The SU's HR policies and procedures are flawed and I know this because I had to work with someone who made me feel scared and uncomfortable for three months before something was done," Rix told the meeting.

Vice-president of student life, Megan Rix, says she is frustrated and upset by what she experienced after she submitted a formal complaint of harassment. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Rix has not told CBC the nature of the harassment allegation.

She said after she filed the complaint there was an investigation, but she said she wasn't given any updates from the investigation or asked if she wanted to take her complaint further.

"When something was done I had to go to him myself and express to him my vulnerabilities and why I felt as though he should resign," Rix added.

Formal complaint filed

Rix said her frustrations grew after filing her complaint.

"I was told I had to keep quiet about what happened to me because all of it, my whole story, was confidential now, and after all, 'breaking confidentiality is an impeachable offence,'" Rix said. "'And Hammad resigned respectfully, therefore we have to protect him.'"

Rix did not say who told her to keep quiet. In an email following the council meeting, Rix confirmed to CBC that she did file a formal complaint against Ahmed with the UPEI Student Union and she did not file a formal complaint outside of the student union.

Rix did not provide CBC with any details of her complaint. 

Ahmed, a fourth-year engineering student, resigned from his position as student union president in January. He did not state reasons for his resignation at that time. CBC has no evidence the resignation was connected to the complaint.

Ahmed is a fourth-year engineering student. He resigned from his position as student union president in January. CBC has no evidence to suggest the resignation was related to the complaint. (Hammad Ahmed/Facebook)

When asked about the allegations, Ahmed wrote in a Facebook message to CBC that, to his knowledge, the "proper HR procedures took place to make sure everyone was in a safe and comfortable workplace environment."

He added that he will be "answering questions and will be open to dialogue with the ombudsperson who is responsible for investigating the matter."

Investigation to begin

In a written statement to the CBC, the student union confirmed there was an investigation into the allegations made against Ahmed in the fall, prior to his resignation.​ However, the union did not share the outcome of that investigation. 

Acting president of the UPEI Student Union, William McGuigan wrote he "was aware that there was an internal investigation launched within the student union in the fall." He added that he was not a part of the investigation, but he was made aware of it at the time.

The acting student union president, William McGuigan, says council will look into the situation to ensure the organization is doing everything it can to protect its employees. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

On Sunday council passed a motion to have the ombudsperson investigate to ensure council's HR policies were followed.

McGuigan said human resources and the ombudsperson will be looking into the allegations to ensure the organization is doing everything it can to protect its employees.  

"We are definitely going to be seeking our legal advice and looking at our own policies from the organization," he said.

In a written statement issued today, UPEI said the "UPEI Student Union is an independent body with its own leadership, policies, and structure" and the university "was not aware of the formal complaint or the internal investigation that the UPEI Student Union is conducting."

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