Members of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) board of directors were questioned by students about their decisions this year at the annual general meeting.
The meeting did not reach quorum and became a group discussion with the 35 students who attended.
RSU executives explained their decisions behind some of the most controversial issues of their reign including the Wellness Centre, their auditor, Appian Way Group, 6 Fest and their $1.2 million deficit.
One of the most heated topics revolved around the RSU’s two-day concert, 6 Fest.
Harman Singh, vice-president of student life and events, and the executive responsible for the concert was not present at the meeting. RSU president, Obaid Ullah, said he received a message from Singh saying that he had an emergency to attend.
At the last RSU board meeting on March 20, Singh was required to release a report detailing all financial information regarding 6 Fest within 24 hours. This report has not been completed.
Vice-president of operations Neal Muthreja said there are over 1,100 student refunds remaining, not including e-transfer refunds.
At the meeting, it was revealed that Ram Ganesh, a current non-RSU employee who has volunteered his time to work with Singh on the 6 Fest refunds, was allowed access to these financial documents.
“Position or no position, employee or [nonemployee], he stepped in to help and I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that. No one today appreciated all the hard work that he did for free, he should be compensated but no one wants to appreciate that. I don’t think that’s fair to Ram himself,” said Ullah.
Ganesh said he was previously employed by the RSU in October, when the refunds first started going out.
He also said that he used his personal and business banks accounts to issue refunds to students.
In response to audience members’ concerns about Ganesh’s involvement in issuing these refunds, Ullah said that there is no conflict of interest system in place to prevent this situation.
In addition to this, the board was questioned about the Appian Way Group, an auditing firm hired by the RSU. Ullah said he is working on providing a report for the next board meeting on this.
Vice-president of equity Tamara Jones also submitted a report explaining the delay in constructing the Wellness Centre. Construction of the centre should’ve began last year, but has now been delayed to September of this year. The report cites that this is due to an “aesthetic change,” and that the centre has gone ahead with permits.
Sid Naidu, the general manager for the RSU, said construction has cost approximately $18,000. He also said no budget was put in place for the centre.
Ullah also said that the RSU has brought in an architect from campus planning to assess the centre and that he is waiting to see “how the summer goes.”
“My hope is that it’s open as a physical space for the next year,” said Ullah.
At the meeting, Muthreja also brought up that the RSU currently has a $1.2 million deficit.
Ullah also said he is not proud of the deficit.
“At the end of the day, maybe the only thing we could have not done was 6 Fest. But the way it looked from an outsider perspective, it looked like it was going to be a success, it was a success,” said Ullah. He also said that 6 Fest was able to reach the most groups and students on campus.
At the end of the meeting, Ullah said he hopes students acknowledge all the accomplishments the RSU has made this year.
“Yes, we’ve made big decisions. And at the end of the day, certain choices. But the bottom line goal was to always help students,” said Ullah.