Controversy about campaigning practices has led the president of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) to call for an audit of how the Board of Governors elects student representatives.
Bagnall’s concerns stem from an email sent by Darius Sookram, a candidate for the student board member position on the Board of Governors. Bagnall said in the email that Sookram was campaigning through the listserv for student groups and course unions, which is in violation of a Board of Governors bylaw. Sookram is the student group and course union commissioner for the RSU.
“I strongly recommend that the Board of Governors use the auditors at Deloitte to do a thorough overview of the governance and procedures,” reads an email sent by RSU President Jermaine Bagnall to board of governors representatives, campus media and Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.
The email states Sookram was initially disqualified from the elections for his actions, but was successful in an appeal and was reinstated.
A copy of the formal appeal decision states that the addresses on the listserv used by Sookram were available in a directory any student could access by request, therefore not giving him an unfair advantage.
Bagnall’s email voices concerns about Abdullah Snobar’s presence on the appeal panel of the elections procedures committee for the board of governors. The email points out that Snobar is the general manager of the Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS) and Sookram’s running mates, George Phu and Naeem Hassen, are respectfully the president and president-elect of the orgainization.
Phu, Sookram and Hassen were elected to the Board of Governors.
“Clearly the definition of conflict of interest is skewed,” Bagnall said. Frank Whitestone, the RSU representative on the Board of Governor’s election procedures committee, said he didn’t receive an email sent by returning officer Catherine Redmond about the appeal hearing and the need for a student representative on the panel.
“I don’t know why she sent it to Abdullah, because he’s not a student,” said Whitestone.
Snobar said he was always a member of the election procedure committee, and sat on the committee with at least two other student representatives.
“It’s not like they pulled me out of the blue,” said Snobar. “I feel comfortable taking on duties I’m asked to do.”
“I think before the RSU president recommends audits they should look at their own,” said Snobar, referring to the audit conducted on the RSU last year.
Sookram could not be reached for comment by press time.
— With files from Carys Mills