By Raneem Alozzi, Sherina Harris and Emma Sandri
Ryerson University will withhold fees from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) until the results of a forensic audit are available, according to a statement released Wednesday night.
“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,” the statement read.
The university met with both the RSU executive team and the Board of Directors (BoD) before issuing a statement outlining several steps the board must take before moving forward.
These steps include conducting a forensic audit and sharing it with the university, as well as renegotiating the terms and conditions of transferring the fees between the RSU and the university to ensure good governance and accountability.
The Eyeopener reported Wednesday afternoon that senior leadership at Ryerson met with RSU executives to discuss allegations of misspending.
Credit card statements with the RSU president’s name on them confirmed by The Eye show purchases totalling thousands. These 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. There were also purchases of $190.97 and $117.52 to Long & McQuade in Toronto, $347.34 to Haze Lounge Inc. in Mississauga, $696.90 on an Airbnb and $613.60 to Bar Everleigh Toronto, among others.
In Wednesday night’s statement, the university said it recently learned of the allegations of improper use of RSU funds by the executives, as well as a failure by the executive to report RSU finances to the BoD.
“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.
RSU president Ram Ganesh and vice-presidents Savreen Gosal, Salman Faruqi, Karolina Surowiec and Edmund Sofo did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the statement, Ryerson collects students’ fees on behalf of the RSU, transferring money in regular installments. Ryerson’s office of public affairs did not immediately confirm how often the installments are made.
Typically, a full-time undergraduate student pays $130 per year to the RSU.
Ryerson’s public relations office did not respond for a request for comment regarding whether this will include fees for student groups who receive funding through the RSU.
The statement also noted Ryerson and the RSU are separate corporate entities, each with their own governance structure.
“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.
More to come.