Veritas Café reopens as former operator retains lawyer
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Monday, January 9, 2017 5:18PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 9, 2017 6:43PM EST
Most years, the Veritas Café at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus shutting its doors during the December exam period and reopening when classes resume in January would not be noteworthy.
But then, most years don’t see the café garner national media attention.
In December, Veritas operator Sandor Dosman had his contract terminated by the Wilfrid Laurier Graduate Students’ Association.
He was told that the issue was a help wanted ad he had posted online, which included many tongue-in-cheek references and in which Dosman said he was looking for a “new slave (full time staff member).”
The closure made headlines across the country and was hotly debated on social media, with the majority of comments suggesting many people thought that the wording of the ad was too mild an offence for Dosman to lose his job.
Dosman has since retained a lawyer, who told CTV News on Monday that he will be contacting the student association on his client’s behalf.
“The GSA never raised any prior issues with Mr. Dosman, he was never provided with any warnings and, most importantly, his termination letter referenced the posted ad as the sole reason for terminating his agreement with the GSA,” Daniel Strigberger said in an email.
“Mr. Dosman continues to be without employment due to the GSA’s actions and the damage the GSA’s statements have caused to his reputation.”
Dosman’s firing has also been the subject of an online petition which, by Monday, had received nearly 3,000 signatures.
Jacob Gorenkoff, one of the students behind the petition, calls Dosman’s firing an example of “oversensitivity” and would still like to see him get his job back – even though he admits that’s unlikely at this point.
“A lot of people think that everything that’s happening is wrong,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a farce.”
Student association president Samantha Deeming received threats from some people unhappy with the decision, which were turned over to campus officials and Waterloo Regional Police.
“It was very difficult,” she said in an interview.
At Monday’s event, there was little talk of Dosman or the Christmastime controversy as Veritas Café reopened – now directly under the auspices of the Graduate Students’ Association, and with a reopening day bonus of free coffee.
“This is a celebration of the importance of graduate education on campus, and a community venue that’s not only popular but meaningful,” said David McMurray, the school’s vice-president of student affairs.
Asked about Dosman’s situation, McMurray said that there was little he could say.
“Anything to do with confidential matters, human resources matters … you can’t really speak to publicly,” he said.
Both the school and the student association refused media interview requests during the days after Dosman’s termination, saying in statements first that the ad was the only reason he was out of the job, then suggesting that there could be other issues at play.
Deeming said Monday that she was “very relieved” to have the café back open.
“It’s been an incredible journey over the last three weeks,” she said.
“This is a great space, and it’s bringing in a lot of students already.”
Under its new management, the café is focused more on catering to people on campus with dietary restrictions, by offering vegan and dairy-free cuisine. Café employees will also start making baked goods in-house.
“We want to be a local, sustainable food service outlet on campus,” said new café manager Patrick McMahon.
According to one of the café’s employees, everybody who worked for Dosman has returned to work at the new-look eatery.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman