By Racy Rafique and Abeer Khan
The vice-president equity’s Google Suite account is being investigated by the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) for “suspicious activity,” it told The Eyeopener today.
The Eye has obtained screenshots from a confirmed source indicating that someone on the vice-president equity’s email account requested to export its data using the Google Takeout service.
This service allows users in a Google Workspace account to download a copy of their data and upload it to another Google account, according to its website.
This data may include student emails sent to the account and Google Form results for initiatives under the vice-president equity’s umbrella, like the Good Food Box, confirmed TMSU director of programming Corey Scott.
“Even if there weren’t any Google Forms, there’s still a huge concern,” said Scott. “It’s the account where people are maybe a bit more vulnerable.”
However, at this time, the TMSU does not know what has been downloaded from the Google Suite and subsequently, the Google Drive.
“We’re trying to investigate to see if it was downloaded,” TMSU executive director Reanna Maharaj told The Eye. “When was it downloaded? What was downloaded? What’s in the Drive? Things like that.”
The Google Takeout Service was used on March 2 at 9:10 p.m. and March 3 at 11:49 a.m., 11:53 a.m. and 12:07 p.m.
These downloads occurred prior to former vice-president equity Areesha Qureshi’s resignation at 3:31 p.m. on March 3, as previously reported by The Eye.
In an emailed statement to The Eye, Qureshi said she did not download any documents or files from the Drive.
“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.
In the September 2022 Board of Directors meeting, members of the equity committee said Qureshi had not been communicating with them, as reported by The Eye.
Dalia Chami, a member of the equity committee, said she hadn’t received emails or updates from Qureshi about equity events. Faculty of Science director Sherry Pourghaz* said she hadn’t seen Qureshi participate in the events she planned, either.
Qureshi responded with an apology and said she did not know she had to provide updates.
Qureshi said the current allegations against her are 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,” she said.
She alleged that she is amongst the few executive members who did not “hesitate to sign an NDA”—a non-disclosure agreement—at the beginning of the year.
“I’m fully aware of the fact that it binds me for eternity, even after my resignation,”said Qureshi. “I have a fiduciary duty to the organization and I can’t leak/breach any personal information or data.”
Maharaj told The Eye that she could not confirm that anything has been downloaded as of yet but said the Students’ Union is investigating.
“The difficulty is finding out what has been downloaded and finding that full analysis of it,” said Scott.
He said the TMSU’s investigation will try to find out the breadth of how much was downloaded and it hopes to know more by the end of the week.
*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.