Ryerson University no longer recognizes the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) as the official student government after the union was rocked by a massive spending scandal.
The announcement was made by the university’s vice-provost of students, Jen McMillen.
“Effective immediately, the university no longer recognizes the RSU as the official student government representing Ryerson students. The university has lost confidence in the RSU’s ability to represent students with good governance and to supply the services that students pay for,” wrote McMillen.
The reasons behind the university’s decision to terminate its relationship with the student union was the union’s mishandling of large sums of student funds.
A forensic audit was launched into over $700,000 of spending by several executives including former RSU president Ram Ganesh. Ganesh was impeached after an external investigation was launched into the union’s spending.
Among some of the questionable expenditures by executives were visits to Toronto nightclubs, LCBO purchases, and Airbnb stays.
The termination agreement also mentioned an internal drama within the union regarding the performance of the song “Colors of the Wind” from the film Pocahantas. As reported on by True North several union executives were facing impeachment, including one for “creating a hostile space for students” by having the song performed by a non-Indigenous student.
Since the audit’s completion, the union had filed a report with the Toronto Police Service to investigate the alleged financial mismanagement by Ganesh. Earlier this year, it was also revealed that the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development was investigating a complaint made against the RSU regarding the union’s handling of workplace harassment.
According to McMillen, the union’s activities were a breach of the university’s 1986 Operating Agreement, and despite negotiations, the RSU has failed to meet the conditions set out by the university to create a new agreement.
Since the announced termination, the RSU has refused to accept the university’s actions.
“The university’s attempted termination of the operational agreement, and added threat to support an entirely new student government, actively undermines the autonomy and democratic rights of students,” said the RSU.
“The RSU does not accept this termination as valid under the agreement.”
Every year, the RSU collects millions of dollars from students through mandatory and ancillary student fees. For the 2017-2018 year, the RSU collected a total of $2.25 million in fees.
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) also responded to the announcement condemning the university for interfering in student affairs.
“Ultimately, all students’ unions are accountable to their members. University administrations cannot and should not insert themselves in the affairs of autonomous and democratically-governed students’ unions,” wrote the CFS.