RECAP: RSU Semi-Annual General Meeting doesn’t release promised forensic audit, other motions passed

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By Alexandra Holyk

Feb. 3 marked the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) first Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) since the university terminated its 1986 Operating Agreement on Jan. 24.

The SAGM was previously advertised as the official release date of the RSU’s forensic audit after it was requested by the university following allegations of “fiscal mismanagement” by former RSU president, vice-president of operations and financial controller.

However, instead of an official forensic audit, RSU president Vanessa Henry and executive director Reanna Maharaj revealed a financial review conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that looked into credit card statements.

At this SAGM, a motion was passed for five RSU bylaw amendments that include an update to the payment policy to have more “transparency and ensure that the RSU is working for students,” according to vice-president of operations James Fotak.

Another motion was passed calling for the RSU’s executive director and financial controller to be subject to two-year terms and be renewed by the Board of Directors. It will also be added to the RSU’s bylaws and policies.

When a student asked about the future of student groups under the RSU, Fotak said “we just don’t know yet,” adding that the RSU will “keep fighting for students.”

Students also won’t be able to vote in the RSU elections on RAMSS, according to Fotak. There will be in-person elections on paper ballots.

Here’s what else happened at the SAGM:

PASSED: Three-day strike scheduled for March

Ryerson students can expect a three-day strike organized by the RSU and Socialist Fightback sometime in March. 

Hermes Azam, the spokesperson for the Ryerson Student Strike Committee, put the motion forward, saying that “our [student] union is under attack…An attack by the crooked Ryerson administration on our union and our principles of student democracy.”

“The time now is to be bold…This strike must call for free education and the abolition of student debt,” said Azam. 

This follows the one-day strike held in November against education cuts imposed by the provincial government.

“Students need to see that their student union is actually fighting for them for a change,” Azam added.

PASSED: Vice-president of marketing position removed

Students are not able to run for the vice-president of marketing position on the RSU Executive team in the 2020-2021 elections.

The reason behind the motion was the RSU already employs a full-time graphic designer and coordinator, according to Maharaj.

Fotak also addressed arguments that said this position was created “under shady circumstances” as a way for the former RSU president to give his friends a job.

According to their agenda, the vice-president of marketing position costs the RSU over $36,000, which the executive team hopes to put towards employing student staff through Ryerson’s Career Boost.

“If somebody else is doing it, then we are taking away work from a full-time staff,” Maharaj said.

NOT PASSED: Nomination amendments to president and vice-president of operations

One student called to amend the nomination processes for the election of the RSU president and vice-president of operations, however, the motion was not passed.

Because it wasn’t submitted in the appropriate amount of time in order to be considered a motion, it was tabled until the next meeting.

Since the RSU doesn’t have an internal coordinator, the role’s responsibilities will be passed onto the vice-president of operations. These tasks include putting out a call for motions to the membership, forming the agenda, booking the space and providing the marketing team with details for the next meeting.

Maharaj explained that the RSU will not be hiring for any full-time positions since Ryerson announced that they will be withholding funds.

The next Board of Directors meeting will take place on Feb. 24.

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