Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

Breaking News
Graphic: Elana Emer
All Campus News News Student Politics

BREAKING: TMSU confirms VP equity account downloaded internal files before resignation

By Jake MacAndrew, Racy Rafique and Gabriela Silva Ponte

The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) confirmed that data from the vice president equity Google account was exported on March 3.

In an emailed statement to The Eyeopener, the TMSU said the vice president equity’s account used Google Takeout successfully three times to download a copy of their data and upload it to another Google account. 

According to screenshots obtained by The Eye, the user “requested to export data” four times on March 2 at 9:10 p.m. and on March 3 at 11:49 a.m., 11:53 a.m. and 12:07 p.m., as previously reported by The Eye

But it only downloaded information three times, twice at 11:49 a.m. and once at 11:50 a.m. on March 3, according to TMSU president Marina Gerges.

According to screenshots sent to The Eye by Gerges, the downloaded information was from Gmail.

These downloads occurred before former vice president equity Areesha Qureshi’s resignation at 3:31 p.m. on March 3.

The students’ union said it has since turned off the Google Takeout service feature on all its accounts. 

“As the Vice-President Equity has now resigned, we are working diligently to ensure that all information that was downloaded, including any personal information and correspondence with the TMSU is maintained solely in secure TMSU servers and accounts,” the statement reads.

Director of programming Corey Scott told The Eye in an emailed statement that the TMSU “currently has no evidence that any personal information or correspondence from the account has been further shared or disseminated.”

Qureshi said she did not download any documents or files from the Drive, as previously reported by The Eye.

“I did back up the emails from my year (which is my work, and my portfolio) because many people have tried to suggest that I did not do any work this year,” she said.

At the September Board of Directors (BoD) meeting, members of the equity committee said Qureshi was not communicating or updating them. Faculty of science director Sherry Pourghaz* said she hadn’t seen Qureshi participate in the events she’d planned either, as previously reported by The Eye. 

Scott told The Eye that the TMSU has involved their legal counsel and reached out to Qureshi to “clarify her legal obligations and have requested that she immediately delete all emails, documents or other information that was downloaded from the account.”

Scott said that in signing the NDA, each board member agreed not to “use, copy, store in any retrieval system or otherwise deal with the Confidential Information in any manner whatsoever without Discloser’s prior written consent except as is reasonably required for the Purpose.”

According to the BoD’s Non-Disclosure Agreement, obtained by The Eyeopener, “confidential information” is “any and all proprietary information and information of a confidential or secret nature which are applicable to or related in any way to the affairs of Ryerson Students’ Union … regardless of … whether the information is specifically identified as ‘confidential’ or ‘proprietary.'”

Qureshi previously told The Eye that she was allegedly amongst the few executive members who “did not hesitate to sign” the NDA at the beginning of the year.

“These emails were downloaded as a direct result of the toxic work environment at the students union and as a means of self-preservation and nothing else,” she told The Eye in an email. “Nevertheless, I understand that this information is confidential and do not plan on sharing this with anyone.”

Qureshi said she would be deleting the downloaded emails as instructed by TMSU’s legal counsel.  

Previously, she told The Eye that these allegations against her, which have since been confirmed, were false but “unsurprising” considering she recently submitted her nomination papers as a presidential candidate on March 3 for the upcoming TMSU elections. 

“This entire fiasco is to paint me in a bad light and somehow make me look horrible in front of everyone,” Qureshi said. 

However, according to Section 4.4 of the TMSU’s bylaws, any director or officer is deemed ineligible to run if they have “previously resigned their position as a Director with less than thirty (30) days notice.”

Qureshi resigned effective immediately. 

The TMSU’s ​​election verification period has been taking place since March 4, after which the campaigning period will begin. Voting will take place between March 21 and March 24.

*A previous version of this article listed this source under a different name but has since been updated to reflect the source’s preferred identification.

Leave a Reply