Ryerson University announced Friday it has terminated its operating agreement with its students’ union, leaving one of Canada’s largest universities without a student government.
“Effective immediately, the university no longer recognizes the [Ryerson Students’ Union] as the official student government representing Ryerson students,” Vice-Provost of Students Jen McMillen said in a statement.
“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.”
The move comes days after the the RSU asked Toronto police to investigate alleged financial mismanagement by former union heads.
The scandal first emerged last January when an RSU credit card bill with approximately $250,000 in questionable spending was revealed by The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s student newspaper.
McMillen said the issues surrounding the union’s management of its internal affairs amount to a breach of its agreement with the university, which has existed since 1986.
“The university gave the RSU ample time to rectify the situation, but the RSU has failed to do so. Accordingly, the university has terminated the 1986 Agreement,” she said.
The credit card spending allegedly took place over an eight-month period dating to May 2018. The bill included purchases at LCBO locations, a shisha lounge, Casino Rama and a credit risk company, The Eyeopener reported.
CBC News reached out to both the university and the union about the issue, but both declined to comment.
Forensic audit complete
Former RSU president Ram Ganesh was impeached following the allegations. His replacement, Maklane deWever, announced that PricewaterhouseCoopers would lead a full forensic audit of the expenses in March 2019.
The union was seeking to regain students’ trust following the spending scandal, deWever said at the time. The forensic audit is now complete.
“We look forward to the Toronto Police Service becoming an important partner in our organization’s effort toward delivering justice to the students we represent,” the RSU said in a statement earlier this week.
The union said it will provide more details about the forensic audit at a meeting on Feb. 3.
McMillen said that given the seriousness of the allegations, the university met with the union’s executive and board of directors last January, and told them Ryerson would withhold the fees it collects from students until a forensic audit was conducted and shared with the school, and a new operating agreement between the two parties was negotiated.
Health and dental coverage will remain, university says
The union has not shared the results of an audit, McMillen said, nor has a new operating agreement been finalized.
“The university has further been concerned with the recent public turnover of several leadership positions within the current executive and allegations raised to the university’s administration by students regarding improper governance, mismanagement, and internal conflict within the RSU,” she said.
McMillen also noted that a new student government could be formed, and “we encourage students to begin giving this some consideration.
“The university is committed to facilitating a process to ensure students have the opportunity to determine the structure of their representative government. More information will be made available in the coming days regarding this process.”
Ryerson is also going to make sure that services like health and dental benefits will remain in place for students for the rest of the academic year, she said.