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EUS VP Communications sanctioned for mocking Farnan apology

An executive in the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) has apologized to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) for mocking an apology issued earlier this month by SSMU Vice-President Internal Brian Farnan.

On Feb. 9, Vice-President Communications Luis Pombo sent a satirical apology through the EUS listserv, which mimicked the format and nature of Farnan’s Jan. 27 apology for racial insensitivity.

Pombo’s joke triggered an EUS equity complaint. In response, the EUS executive team, in consultation with the EUS equity commissioner, imposed a number of sanctions on Pombo. In addition to Pombo’s apology to SSMU, these include equity sensitivity training and the revocation of EUS listserv and publications responsibilities, which will now fall under the president’s portfolio.

EUS President Carlos Marin said the problem stemmed from Pombo conveying personal opinions from his position as an executive.

“[He] as an individual may disagree with SSMU’s Equity Policy […] but [he] cannot, as a representative of the EUS, make a joke out of that; that’s completely unacceptable,” Marin said. “[He] cannot send an official e-mail from an official communication channel of the EUS making fun of the concept of equity.”

Pombo accepted full responsibility, noting that his mock apology was part of his initiation into the Plumbers’ Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), an Engineering student group.

“As part of my PPO initiation I was given a set of tasks,” Pombo told SSMU Council on Thursday. “One of these tasks, however, was to send out a fake apology to all engineering students. In what can only be described as a lazy attempt at comedy, I decided to satirize Brian Farnan’s apology.”

Without the listserv and work on publications, Pombo will continue to manage the EUS web developing team and the yearbook, among other tasks.

Some students, such as Alex Grant, U2 Engineering, said the response was appropriate.

“I think [the sanctions] are probably a good middle between taking him out totally and leaving him how he is,” Grant said. “There’s absolutely no way that he could just be let off the hook for that.”

Other students such as Morgan Grobin, U3 Engineering and a chief of the PPO, said the response to Pombo’s mock apology was too harsh.

“I think anyone who is mildly intelligent realizes that [the e-mail is] mocking the SSMU equity process itself, and not mocking equity or Brian Farnan personally,” Grobin said. “What Luis did was a mistake [… but] I don’t think he should be stripped of all of his powers [….] Maybe something that would have been more productive would have been an open forum with Engineering students to talk about equity.”

Grobin also criticized the process by which the sanctions were decided.

“The [executive team] is only eight people; they’re elected representatives, but they only represent the interests of the EUS executive, and there wasn’t consultation from year representatives who represent all the students in the Engineering body,” Grobin said. “That’s why Council exists—so that no decision gets pushed through that’s inappropriate or unfair.”

However, Marin argued that the executives abided by EUS Equity Policy.

“That’s how our process of the Equity Policy works […] and the fact that [the complaint was about] someone from our team made it more appropriate,” he said.

Marin also said that despite negative reaction surrounding the incident, increased discussion about equity among students was a positive outcome.

“There’s this stereotype that in Engineering we don’t care about these things,” he said. “As leaders of the [Engineering students’] community, [we] have to make sure that this discussion happens. And I think it’s happening.”

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  1. Claiming that an absurd action or statement with an overwhelmingly negative public reaction is important and valid because it at least “started a dialogue”, or anything along those lines, has got to rank up there among the most bullshit inane poltiical cliches of all time.


  2. Morgan Grobin

    Whether or not the exec abided by the equity policy is irrelevant. When it comes to sanctioning a co-executive, that sort of thing NEEDS to go through council. If your equity policy allows you to make those big decisions without consulting council, change your damn policy.

    • ??????????????????????????????

      or you know….you could just not be oppressive??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????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  3. Speaking as someone who plays a role in bringing people of the McGill community together, I’m extremely shocked at this response by EUS. Poking fun at the things that are inherently McGillian, such as some of the outrageous censorships we have to go through in voicing an opinion only serves to bring us together. There are limits, but what Pombo did was by no measures a violation of that. Satire’s great and I don’t think Pombo should even need to apologize. Get your head on straight and do something useful.

    • registerwithdisqus

      Since when did issuing apologies become outrageous censorship? I know people opposed to equity enjoy their caricatures, but this is a really silly statement.

      Moreover, how does openly mocking the processes we have adopted through student governance, while acting as a representative, serve to bring us together? I’m sure there are plenty of people who were not “brought together” by all this. Do they not count?

  4. Interesting how Morgan Grobin, who here criticizes the decisions of the executive, was involved in the issuing of this same sarcastic e-mail, as it was part of Pombo’s initiation in the PPO. If you don’t see some insincerity & manipulation of communication channels happening here, I don’t know what to say to you.

    • preach

    • Yeah, it’s rather interesting to consider what other kinds of EUS actions have been a result of PPO initiations. What other things have people like Morgan managed to get happen in EUS through inappropriate power influences? Maybe there should a hard look at increasing the transparency of the PPO and its initiations. I wonder if Morgan and her friends have ever heard of “conflicts of interest?”

      • Morgan Grobin

        This is the first time that I have ever heard of an EUS action of this scale being taken as a result of a PPO action. But let me just stress that PPO Initiation tasks are along the same lines as a Carnival scavenger hunt. You’re gonna do some of them, because they’re fun, but you don’t feel coerced into doing them all. Shotgunning a beer in the library is well and good, but you’re not *actually* going to fly to Paris and take a picture in your onesie.

        • But there’s still a problem that it was on the list of things to do. And who knows what things happened before, or might happen in the future. The PPO initiation should be more transparent and be approved by EUS council. Otherwise we really can’t know for sure that the PPO isn’t exerting unethical influence over council.

          • It sounds like his task was to sarcastically mimic the Farnan apology. How would this lead to “exerting unethical influence over council”? It’s a student society, not a conspiracy.

          • And maybe next time it’ll involve submitting and/or a satirical funding request, or something like “vote against every motion at a council meeting” and then some motion fails because of it. There’s a problem when execs do things in their official capacity because of a dare from the PPO.

          • Yes. The problem IS what the execs do in their official capacity. That means making the conscious choice to send the email knowing that it would appear to represent the views of the EUS, that means making the decision to sanction co-execs without consulting council. Blaming that on the PPO is stripping the VP Communications of his agency. That’s dehumanizing and just wrong.

          • No, blaming the PPO is recognizing that Pombo shouldn’t have been in a position where he had to decide whether or not to carry out an initiation action. Yeah, he made a wrong decision, but you were the ones who gave him the decision to make.

            Don’t use words you don’t understand in your desperate attempt to not get blamed for creating the situation in the first place.

          • Seems like an error in judgement on both parties. It obviously wouldn’t have been there if someone could have foreseen the immoral equity violation. You can always find someone to blame if you aggressively try.

          • Don’t tell me what I do and don’t understand.

          • Then don’t brush off your responsibility in this.

          • If you want responsibility to be taken – at least in a reasonable matter – then just open your eyes. The issue of equity has “started a dialogue”, awareness has been raised, punishment has been handed out, and precautions are in order for this to never happen again. I don’t how making people grovel for forgiveness and spiting others for making valid arguments that you don’t happen to agree with is going to achieve anything but more arguments and offensive words. It happened. It’s done. Let’s live and let live, learn from our past mistakes, and move on.

          • But that’s just it, I’m not looking for people to grovel. I’m trying to “learn from our past mistakes” by pointing out that nothing’s changed to prevent this from happening again. I’m saying that we still have the same set up that allows it to be repeated in the future and that some institutional change in EUS needs to be made to prevent it. You know, actually learn from it and modify EUS accordingly.

          • What’s the best way to “modify” EUS though? To enforce
            strict case-by-case rules and harsher consequences as a result of
            unintentionally violating such rules? We can’t police what everybody thinks and
            how they feel – that would be ridiculous – and we can’t accommodate everybody
            either. It’s been said that intent is irrelevant to outcome of certain
            situations, but that’s not really fair to say at all. It’s human nature to act
            without thinking of every possible outcome in any bizarre scenario. Mistakes
            get made, feelings are hurt. It’d be good to make small changes with a positive
            light in the right direction – WITH THE BIGGER PICTURE IN MIND – but to change
            the rules for a specific incident and monitoring students like hawks, ready to
            slam down a sweet punishment and revenge – especially targeting a specific
            group of people/students – is the absolute opposite of our end goal. It makes
            us all look like big, stupid, whiney hypocrites.

          • That has *nothing* to do with the fact that you can’t harass someone based on your own assumptions about their knowledge. I’m already used to people assuming that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m a woman in technology. Don’t add “because she’s an engineering student she doesn’t know what words mean” to the list of discriminations I have to put up with.

            I didn’t want to be bullied into discussing in the comments section of a Tribune article something that has been discussed countless times by PPO leaders and EUS executives. I’m not happy or proud about what the VP Comm did and I do accept some degree of personal responsibility for the email. I looked over the task list with equity, health and safety in mind but I did not consider potential abuses of power or conflicts of interest. It’s disappointing that it takes a public interest to add another level of scrutiny to our process, but so be it.

            It’s also disappointing that you don’t think that an adult can make their own decisions about what will and will not hurt the organization that they are a part of.

          • See, there you go. You’ve accepted some responsibility yourself. Now the conversation can move onto, what has to change to prevent this from happening again. And yeah, that’s generally how it works. Processes go on until they screw up, there’s public outcry, then the process is changed to hopefully address the issue. That’s how it works.

            I’m an engineering student too, so you can’t try to throw that bullshit at me. I’m basing your lack of knowledge on the way you’ve shown a complete and total distain for equity all year, and suddenly now, when your role in this is being brought up, you throw out equity terms as if they matter to you.

            That “adults can make their own decisions” logic doesn’t work here. Our federal and provincial government bodies have detailed conflict of interest laws for a reason, to prevent inappropriate power imbalances to impact decision-making processes. And if I don’t trust an MP to make decisions without legislative guides, then I’m certainly not going to trust a student politician to do so either.

          • Please don’t condescend to me. You’re talking about having productive dialogue but that’s the easiest way to make sure it doesn’t happen.

            I’m really disappointed in the way I have presented myself if you honestly think that I have disdain for equity. What have I done to give you that impression? It’s no secret that I am highly critical of the equity process at this school. But the equity process can and should be separated from the core ideas of equity, ideas that I am passionate about making more accessible to those who doubt them. Giving people the decency and the respect that they deserve is something every human on this planet should hold dear, and it’s tragic that the idea of someone being “anti-equity” exists.

          • Honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anything from you about you supporting the principle of equity. With everything you’ve said publicly, you’ve appeared to be firmly in the anti-equity camp.

          • Don’t assume that when I critique the process, I am critiquing the ideas behind it then.

          • But when everything you say is no different from those that oppose equity as a whole, why would I assume that you’re any different from them? If you want people to know that you support equity but think the process used for complaints in the student societies is flawed, isn’t it up to you to clarify that?

          • PPO influence on EUS executives needs to be approved by council? Hey, why not take it a step further? I say we call for requiring ratification and full disclosure to council of any and all interactions between EUS execs and Freemasons or reptiles – to ensure that council isn’t having an unethical influence exerted over it by Illuminati and/or Lizard Men…!

            …seriously though, Yeahbutno, take off your goddamn tinfoil hat already; you’re embarrassing yourself.

            And the PPO isn’t even a part of the EUS, so besides the fact that your notion is inane and impractical for all the reasons EquityFTW listed, the EUS wouldn’t even actually have any authority whatsoever to enforce it.

        • goodbye PPO

          PPO is a cancer that has been in EUS for too long. Keep your games away from us.

    • And what would your response have been if somebody else had made those exact same criticisms? Because I can assure you that plenty of people are of the same mind.

      If you actually have any sort of valid point to disagree with Morgan Grobin’s reasoning then by all means, please state it. But if all you have is passive-aggressive implied ad hominem bullshit based on her position, then get the fuck out of here.

  5. Headline in a week: “Editor of the Red Herring Officially Sanctioned and Forced to Apologize for Publishing a Mock Apology Mocking an Apology for Mocking an Apology”

  6. TheLeftFailsAtMath

    This saga has translated into the most embarrassing sequence of events for all involved, and for McGill Especially.

    McGill student politicians need to take a stand against these gross encroachments on freedom of speech and bullying by the Equity Commissioner. Enough is Enough, this is INSANE and everyone is laughing at McGill.

    • Um, you know that there is more than one Equity Commissioner at McGill, right? There are like 7. Also, it was the other EUS execs who decided that Pombo’s actions were worth sanctioning, so…

  7. As wrong it was for Luis to use his title as VP Communications to distribute that email, this whole thing has been blown out of proportion, granted not as much as the Farnangate incident. However, Morgan is correct – the letter in question was to mock to absurdity of the original “apology”, which IRONICALLY, triggered an equity complaint! How hilarious is that? The silly thing is, with regards to the SSMU apology, the offended party claimed “micro-aggression” and “racism”, but the EUS equity complaint claimed they were “inequitable about being equitable”. I agree this should go through council as the reps who represent the students may have changed the outcome. Not saying that it shouldn’t have been addressed – it’s good to re-evaluate these things, and hopefully the rational people will open their eyes and see that addressing incidents like these with so much energy is unnecessary and invalidates REAL equity issues that are occurring/have yet to occur. The EUS execs treated it according to protocol… I suppose. It could have been handled with a little more grace and more internally. SSMU is re-evaluating their equity policy based on the outrage of the Listerv, hopefully we can re-evaluate what actually matters too (Hint: not this)

  8. From the National Post:

    “We’re perfectly prepared to hurt those who make the remarks in a completely disproportionate way in their career and in their future because somebody was supposedly offended or hurt,”

    Shame on all of you. Also, I, along with many others I’m sure, am refraining from identifying myself for this same reason – we’re wrong according to all of you and how we feel about these situations is incorrect. We are all hypocrites.

  9. William Farrell

    Using one’s authority over the Pipeline as a medium for personal opinion was certainly an error in judgement. That said, it hardly mocks the SSMU Equity Committee any more than they already make a mockery of themselves. I don’t know that I would be happy attending a university where such absurdity was not appropriately ridiculed. I am proud to see Engineering continue to be a vanguard for sanity on campus.

  10. Dalia Goldberg

    Wait until the National Post picks this one up

  11. What’s the big deal? He was mocking the ridiculous apology email from farnan that we all should have never received in the first place. Neither should have apologized. What a waste of time and our equity commission resources….takin attention away from legitimate equity issues and making the current commission look foolish.

  12. Perhaps Marin could define his “concept of Equity.” I love these nebulous terms.

  13. Engineering Student

    As a graduating student I want to write the opinion I shaped about PPO throughout my 4 years at McGill. Please understand this is not an attack but simply voicing how I feel about the issue and I hope I do not offend anyone and please understand that it is all in good intention.
    At first when you join McGill you see PPO people always where the party’s at, which draws people to them, and that is maybe a good thing. BUT as the semesters passed by the bad things outweighed the good thing. To name a few 1) 2 PPO guys butt grabbed my friend (she is a girl too) and ran away, 2) a girl by the name of Romina Nadeem who was being initiated into PPO was going around campus with a HUGE Penis like thing strapped around her waist. I do not know how can you respect a person that would do that in public. Things like these should stay in frat houses and private places, and that is not simply my opinion but I am sure walking around montreal with a huge penis around you is illegal. 3) most vacant positions in the EUS council would be filled by an “assigned” member who (coincidentally) happens to be a PPO member instead of going public for elections which is scary to the engineering students who feel that PPO has a sense of entitlement over every thing EUS. This is not my personal opinion, a lot of people feel that way since I had discussions with people and I was surprised I was not the only one. 4) The email that was sent by Pombo, even though I might agree with its content, shows again how PPO members feel this entitlement over everything EUS. The mere fact that one of his initiation tasks was to send an email from EUS shows that Neil DenToom, the PPO chief, believes he can use a EUS tool for his own amusement. In the eyes of PPO the line between the fraternity and the EUS is very blurry and it makes people wonder if that is also true in the finances. 5) Why when the PPO initiations happen the PPO members believe they are allowed to block half of McConnell and guard the entrances of the EUS mall with bats or sticks forbidding anyone from entering that space. Again, that sense of entitlement and the blurry line between EUS and fraternity is alarming. Things like this should not happen on campus. Can I and my friends block half of McConnell for a frat related activities and guard doors with sticks? I do not think so. Unless we were PPO 6) Numerous are the times when I saw PPO members peeing in the ghetto on the front yards of a house or on buildings while drunk and acting rowdy not realizing that McConnel is litterally 2 minutes away. As a girl that is something that I find appalling. 7) raising and giving money for charity does not give you a pass for doing all of the previous things. Actually it makes people wonder if that is simply a PR stunt to bring positive attention. I never gave money to OAP or even to PPO when I see them asking for money because I do not trust people who act rowdy and urinate in public regularly with my money. Instead I find out what is the charity they will give money to and donate there without them as an intermediate. 8) I believe in freedom of speech and expression. I do not care if the PPO people like to dress messy and wear a dirty lab coat, if that is their thing, sure why not. I know they think it makes them look humble and approachable but it makes them look like they have not taken a shower in a month. Again, that is up to them and they are free to do what they want. But when most of their lab coats are covered with sexual and crude drawings and words I completely things that not only it is disrespectful it is illegal. ESPECIALLY THAT WE ALWAYS HAVE MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS FROM THE NEIGHBORING SCHOOL WALK AROUND AND CHILL AT MCGILL.
    Conclusion: Again, this is what I felt about PPO during my years at McGill. I am entitled to my own opinion I am not entering a debate with PPO members. I am hoping that PPO members will read this feedback that is felt by me and many of the people I consulted with and will work hard to better their image because it does not look good. Thank you for reading if you actually read the whole thing.

    • Just an fyi here, but #2 she didn’t have a penis strapped onto her. It was one of those broken leg props from the dollar store. So before you start going around and accusing people, make sure you have your facts straight. There’s also nothing wrong with what the PPO does in public, as long as they are not encroaching on the safe spaces of others. For example, if the PPO makes fun of a person’s race, sexual identity, gender identity, social or economic identities, then yes it’s wrong. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of people dressed stupidly and being loud. Regarding your point about blocking access to a hallway, that is true. However, they “reserve” the hallway and it occurs after 9pm. If this really bothers you, that you do not have access to a hallway that serves no purpose other than to walk in (ie all the services are closed by 5pm), then you might have another problem. If you really wanted to use that hallway, then you would simply have to “reserve” it. Regarding #7, that’s very irrelevant to your entire discussion. I have seen numerous people urinate in the McGill community. PS If you truly cared about the neighborhood (like you pretend to in your post), you wouldn’t call it the McGill Ghetto, as requested by the residents of the area. Back to my point, sooooo many people urinate all over the city of Montreal, regardless of whether they are PPO or not, whether they even attend McGill or not. This is just what happens in big cities. And it’s not just men 😉 Don’t be a sexist. It’s sad that you are accusing the PPO of stealing money they raise for charity, especially without any proof, especially when a lot of these charities are hand picked by the members because they have been personally affected by one of the causes (example, when a PPO member’s aunt loses her battle to breast cancer, the PPO members team up to donate to that cause). Every year they donate to big organizations and they pose in a picture with a cheque showing the donated amount. Now, regarding #8. Sure it’s ugly to see the sexual imagery they may (not all do) have on their labcoats, but why should the PPO be responsible for the middle school kids? It’s like telling someone to change their socks because an unwanted and uninvited person just walked into their house. That doesn’t make sense. Besides, the campus is right in the middle of downtown, where there exists worse things.

      Reading your response to this article is only an indication that you do not like the PPO, and that’s fine. But to use information that is highly incorrect, to make false claims and to use irrelevant points only shows that you are willing to use anything to throw shade at the PPO and its members. Maybe even showing a bit of jealousy, that you weren’t included in a club that you really really wanted to be a part of.

      TL DR: Most of your points are incorrect and are based on incorrect information. Get your facts straight lady and stop throwing shade because you weren’t invited to the party.

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