By Raneem Alozzi, Sherina Harris and Emma Sandri
According to a statement from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) vice-president equity, the RSU president pressured his executive team to prevent last week’s Board of Directors (BoD) meeting from reaching quorum.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Karolina Surowiec said president Ram Ganesh forced her, along with the rest of the executive members, to contact directors instructing them to skip the meeting and send their regrets by email. On the agenda was a motion demanding BoD members be able to access financial documentation from financial controller Dharshini Jay.
At the meeting, credit card statements from a card with Ganesh’s name on it were read aloud by student groups director Maklane deWever. He alleged that $250,000 of union funds were spent.
The statements, later confirmed by The Eye, included expenses totalling thousands of dollars in food, alcohol and other purchases. The statements show that 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., $696.90 on an Airbnb and $613.60 to Bar Everleigh Toronto, among others. At the meeting, Ganesh said the card could be used by any part-time or full-time RSU staff member.
In her post, Surowiec said Ganesh’s request “did not sit well with her, as deliberately denying quorum would negatively impact multiple people and groups.” According to her statement, she told Ganesh he should use other methods to handle the situation—and then he called her and said “there would be consequences” if she didn’t follow his demands.
The Eyeopener reached out to Ram Ganesh for comment and he did not respond in time for publication. Surowiec denied to comment for the time being.
Surowiec was not present at the BoD meeting. In her statement, she said this was because of the impact of Ganesh’s demands on her health. Several board directors were also not in attendance.
The meeting didn’t meet quorum, meaning no motions could be voted on and ratified—including those brought forward regarding the finances.
Surowiec said she was kept in the dark about the statements and first learned about them from Jay in an email on Jan. 16.
“I was deeply shaken when I found out that these unreconciled credit card statements amounted to roughly $250,000,” she wrote.
At the meeting, Jay said she set a deadline of Feb. 1 for the RSU to submit receipts for their purchases.
The BoD has called an emergency meeting for Feb. 1 and will retain legal counsel, according to a letter addressed to the Ryerson community, signed by over 20 directors.
Over 20 Board of Directors members released a statement tonight calling for an emergency board meeting and saying that they will retain legal counsel in light of allegations of RSU executives breaking bylaws and misspending thousands @theeyeopener pic.twitter.com/nkaQ0JQWrI— Sherina (@sherinaharris) January 27, 2019
“You have our commitment that justice will be served, and that any individual who violated their duty to serve you is held accountable to the fullest extent possible,” the directors wrote.
In a previous interview with The Eyeopener, Surowiec said that she too “deserved answers” regarding the spending. She voted to suspend Ganesh as well as vice-president operations Savreen Gosal in an emergency executive meeting on Jan. 25.