Ryerson University announced Friday it has terminated its 34-year-old operating agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), following allegations that former executives were misspending student funds, and recent infighting and resignations.
In a statement Jen McMillen, vice-provost for students, said Ryerson no longer recognizes the RSU as the official student government representing 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,” McMillen said.
In January 2019, Ryerson student newspaper The Eyeopener reported that RSU executives had allegedly spent up to $250,000 of student tuition funds on food, clothing, and club purchases through company credit cards.
In response, the university announced it was withholding the union’s fees until a full forensic audit could be completed, and their operating agreement fully renegotiated.
RSU president Ram Ganesh was impeached in February 2019, and a new board and executive team was elected in May.
The university has lost confidence in the RSU’s ability to represent students
Ryerson’s statement said they have attempted to reach terms with the RSU since February 2019, but, “the RSU has ceased responding to the university’s efforts to reach common ground.”
Though the RSU announced the forensic audit into the alleged improper use of funds was completed — and that they had filed a police report after reviewing the documents — Ryerson said it had not yet received the audit.
The university also said concerns of “allegations raised to the university’s administration by students regarding improper governance, mismanagement, and internal conflict within the RSU” as one of the reasons for terminating the agreement. Since their term began in May 2019, three of the six RSU executives have resigned, and one has been impeached.
Kwaku Agyemang, former vice-president for education, told The Eyeopener he resigned due to a “series of employment violations and internal corruption … ” Current president Vanessa Henry responded to Agyemang’s claim by saying it is a “false accusation.”
The Ryerson statement says all independent entities receiving student funds through the RSU will continue to do so, and the university will take over vital services like health and dental from the student union for the remainder of the semester.
McMillen said students have the option to create a new student government structure, and more information about that process will be released in coming days.
“We want to reiterate that this decision was not made lightly. The university wants to assure students that we remain committed to working in good faith with a student government that demonstrates a commitment to good governance and sound financial management.”