On February 1, the Ryerson Student Union’s (RSU) Board of Directors held an emergency meeting regarding RSU’s executives reported mismanagement of the student funds that officially broke out to the public on January 25th when Ryerson’s student newspaper, The Eyeopener, posted pictures of a credit card statement under the name of RSU president Ram Ganesh.
According to the RSU’s financial controller Dharshini Jay, as of February 1st the purchases that were made amount to $273,000 of student fees.
Purchases included $2,280.89 to the club EFS Toronto, $2,507.18 at a Cineplex Rec Room in Toronto and $1,375.21 at Nick’s Sport Shop.
Present at the meeting were Vice-President Operations Savreen Gosal, Vice-President Student Life and events Edmund Sofo and Vice-President Equity Karolina Surowiec. Salman Faruqi, vice-president education, resigned last Wednesday after learning of the credit card statements. In a statement sent to the Board of Directors, Faruqi stated that the events following the financial scandal and throughout the year had taken a toll on his health and relationships, making him no longer feel he could serve students effectively.
“Due to this I do not believe that I will be properly able to serve the students any longer in my position as VP Education and I am therefore resigning with immediate effect,” he wrote.
Ganesh was not present at the meeting out of concern for his safety, according to an email from his lawyer obtained by The Eye.
As the Ryerson Student Union, like any other union, is a separate entity from Ryerson University, the university has limited jurisdiction. At most the university can hold meetings with the RSU Executives and Board of Directors and offer their support.
“I have respect for that. We have never actually done anything in the past that put us in a position to try to intervene in the business of the RSU,” Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said in a previous interview with The Eye.
“While the University has no authority to conduct an independent investigation into RSU finances, it is the University’s view that the RSU must comply with its bylaws, policies, and the law,” the statement said. “Until […] there is greater transparency and confidence that the RSU is managing student fees responsibly and for their intended purposes, the University will withhold these fees, except for the funds necessary to meet the RSU’s operational obligations.”
Motions Passed and Failed
During the meeting, a motion was passed to decrease executive salaries by thirty per cent, back to the previous amount they earned before the Board of Directors voted to increase the executive team’s salaries by $11,000 in May.
A forensic audit of the RSU’s finances will be conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), more specifically the purchases made on the executive credit card by Ganesh.
A motion to abolish director slates failed after several arguments from board members.
“We’re also abolishing accessibility […] it wouldn’t allow students to [have resources],” said Cristal Hines, a director from the faculty of community services.
During the next Board of Directors meeting on February 4th, a motion will be put forward to remove all of the executives from office.