As the Sheaf reported March 8, USSU president Scott Hitchings, vice-president Reid Nystuen and vice-president Kelsey Topola filed a joint complaint to the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of University Students’ Council over Ferwerda’s inappropriate workplace behaviour. The complaint alleged frequent tardiness, absenteeism and, on at least one occasion, unprofessional language toward USSU staff following a poorly-planned event of Ferwerda’s. Although USC sustained the complaint, they decided not to publicize it with a letter to the Sheaf, as the USSU bylaw permits.
An earlier complaint, filed in November of 2011, arose from a meeting between Ferwerda and a student councillor during which he was “unprofessional, disagreeable and impossible to talk to,” according to the councillor. For that incident, the CEDC recommended “an immediate, formal apology” to the councillor, as well as a written report on how Ferwerda felt he could act more professionally in his role as a students’ union executive.
“There have been multiple times in which VP Ferwerda has been argumentative, disparaging, and has lost his temper with coworkers, thereby violating the principles of professionalism the USSU seeks to uphold,” the November CEDC report reads.As this report was issued in November, knowledge of Ferwerda’s behaviour appears to stretch back to early in his term as VP student affairs.
Ferwerda, when contacted about these fresh allegations of unprofessional behaviour, again declined to comment.
“As before, I am legally obligated to not discuss anything that happens in camera,” he wrote in an email on March 13.
The March 8 students’ council meeting was dominated by discussion of the Ferwerda affair, with many councillors expressing disappointment that the confidential talks had been leaked to the Sheaf. Former USSU president Chris Stoicheff, who also attended the meeting, focused instead on the Sheaf’s decision to publish the story at all. He suggested the complaints unfairly targeted Ferwerda and that many others associated with the USSU have missed meetings or had arguments with coworkers and were not punished.
When asked if additional reports alleging inappropriate workplace behaviour altered his opinion of Ferwerda, Stoicheff said he was standing firm.
“I can’t address those specific issues but it does seem to be of a pretty petty nature,” said Stoicheff. “Is he showing up to work drunk? No. Is he showing up to work high or on some illegal substances? As far as I know, no. Is he involved in fraudulent activity or is he embezzling funds? Those [would be] stories. But is he disagreeing with councillors and getting into arguments with them? Sure, but I don’t think that’s an issue.”