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Former TMSU employee publicly alleges workplace misconduct

By Anastasia Blosser, Dexter LeRuez, Gabriela Silva Ponte and Negin Khodayari

Former Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) communications director David Jardine posted a video to their social media on Sunday alleging “sexual violence” in the students’ union’s workplace. 

The nine-minute TikTok video, which has now garnered over 3,100 likes and over 69,500 views, shows Jardine speaking to the camera regarding alleged concerns with summer interim Board of Directors (BoD) vice president operations and current presidential candidate Nathan Sugunalan. 

Jardine was responsible for all communications with the TMSU until Aug. 31, according to a membership advisory on the students’ union’s website

Jardine posted the video the night before the fall byelection’s voting period began on Nov. 20. The voting period is taking place until Nov. 22.

The fall byelection has been ongoing since Oct. 30. It comes after the spring election was deemed “invalid,” largely due to Elections Procedures Code violations and a misconduct investigation, as previously reported by The Eyeopener

A summer interim BoD was announced at the end of April and served from May 1 to Nov. 3 of this year.

Jardine said in an interview with The Eye they decided to come forward with the video at this time partly because of the election and Sugunalan’s decision to run for president.

Jardine alleged in the video that one individual came forward to them disclosing that they felt “uncomfortable” about some interactions with Sugunalan.

A confidential source* confirmed this to The Eye

Other allegations made in the video—including Jardine’s claims that there was a power imbalance, that the issues persist and that a second individual eventually came forward to them with “more serious” allegations—cannot be verified by The Eye.

Sugunalan sent an emailed statement regarding the video to The Eye. “The allegations made against me were investigated and found to be unsubstantiated,” Sugunalan said in the statement. “The outcome was already determined with due process.”

In the rest of Sugunalan’s statement, he alleged that the actions taken by Jardine were prejudiced and “vindictive.”

Sugunalan also stated that “the rehashing of this issue” is a “political move.”

In a statement sent to The Eye on Nov. 20 by the TMSU, the students’ union said a workplace investigation was conducted by the TMSU’s executive director Reanna Maharaj and took place over four days in August, in accordance with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Jardine, Sugunalan and the individuals who came forth were all interviewed, according to the statement.

In the same statement in regards to Jardine’s video, the TMSU said it “can confirm that an investigation determined that the allegation of workplace harassment was unfounded.” 

The statement further reads, “As with all workplace investigations, the outcome is confidential, but since…Jardine has chosen to breach that confidentiality, the TMSU can confirm that—while no breach of TMSU policy was found—the organization nevertheless took pro-active steps to prevent further issues, including reviewing the anti-harassment policy, setting expectations around professional conduct and identifying organizational support contacts for the two employees to report any reprisal or further issues.”

The TMSU’s statement disclosed that Jardine, as the complainant, was not advised of every step in the investigation process, which was “confidential.” The statement further added, “This does not render the process flawed.” 

Further in his statement, Sugunalan expressed that he believes the allegations against him feed into certain stereotypes men of colour face.

In response to Sugunalan’s allegations, Jardine told The Eye “I always make sure to not jump to conclusions over something like this. And ultimately I listened to the survivors who disclosed to me that they felt unsafe.”

Jardine alleged that they don’t believe there was necessarily any malice on the TMSU’s part. 

“I made that clear in my report. I said that it could be that [Sugunalan] doesn’t know where others’ boundaries are and just needed to be educated about that,” Jardine said to The Eye.

Jardine alleged in the video that they and the person who came forward did not feel that this was a matter that required filing a police report for. 

“I’m not saying that it was criminal sexual assault but I am absolutely saying that what I witnessed with my own eyes, even if nothing that people told me was true,…was at the very least enough for a conversation to happen with that person. And remind them what is appropriate for a person in a management kind of position to be talking about or saying to people who they have power over,” Jardine said in the video.

In the video, Jardine alleged “management decided that nothing wrong had happened and that no action would be taken.”

An email obtained by The Eye on Nov. 21 shows that Jardine sent the TMSU’s BoD a letter on Sept. 11 addressing some of the same alleged concerns brought up in their new video.

The students’ union published a membership advisory to their website shortly thereafter.

Jardine then sent an email to the TMSU’s BoD and management on Oct. 2—which The Eye obtained on that same day—in response to the membership advisory, stating that the students’ union made “several demonstrably false statements” against them. 

Though the majority of Jardine’s Sept. 11 letter referred to their work experience with the TMSU, their Oct. 2 email challenged the statements the TMSU made claiming that they investigated the harassment allegations and interviewed the witnesses. 

In the Oct. 2 email, Jardine said they “can assert with 100% confidence” that the sexual harassment allegations were never investigated and several steps of the TMSU’s sexual violence policy were never met. 

Jardine said the investigation did not include “reviewing the case with the respondent(s) before the result is decided, informing the union one of their members is involved, and allowing a support person to be with the victims during their interviews.”

The Eye cannot verify Jardine’s claims about the investigation.

The Eye reached out to the TMSU regarding Jardine’s claims in the Oct. 2 email. The TMSU replied in an emailed statement on Oct. 13, further denying the majority of the allegations Jardine made in the Oct. 2 email.

The Oct. 13 TMSU’s statement regarding Jardine’s Oct. 2 email said that it is “inappropriate” for anyone to speculate on current employees and that “it is a form of harassment to discuss performance issues with anyone but the worker and management.”

At the time of the publication of this article, over 50 comments have amassed on the TikTok video, some of which commended Jardine and thanked them for speaking out. 

*This source has asked to remain confidential due to the sensitivity of the matter in order to protect their privacy and identity.

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