Ryerson Student Union president impeached amid spending scandal

$273,000 in credit card charges under review

Credit card statements outlining questionable purchases  Courtesy The Eyeopener

Ryerson Student Union president Ram Ganesh has been impeached and the vice-president of operations, Savreen Gosal, suspended after questions were raised about a variety of expenses charged to the union’s credit cards.

The questions surfaced after the Ryerson student newspaper, The Eyeopener, obtained photos of credit card statements detailing RSU purchases made under Ganesh’s name. Some of them were for over $2,000 and were made at places such as Club EFS and The Rec Room. Charges include over $1,300 at Nick’s Sports Lounge, almost $700 was spent at an Airbnb, over $600 at The Everleigh bar and almost $800 at the LCBO.

Members of the board had not been asked to approve these purchases, The Eyeopener reported. As a result, a forensic audit was ordered into the financial statements and receipts. The audit was expected to happen last week, however, no results have been made public.

The union board removed Ganesh at a meeting Feb. 11 and appointed student groups director Maklane deWever as president.

Per the RSU’s financial policies, only the general manager and financial controller should have access to the credit cards. Back in May, the general manager had a credit card with a $20,000 spending limit. That card was taken over by Ganesh and Gosal, with each receiving their own card and a $10,000 limit, according to reporting by The Eyeopener.

The RSU set a deadline of Feb. 1 to have the finances reconciled and receipts provided for the purchases. At an emergency board meeting held that day, the RSU financial controller Dharshini Jay clarified that the total amount spent between May 1 and Feb. 1 was $273,000.

The six members of the executive committee of the RSU are selected through an election process and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the RSU. They oversee an operating budget of $2.7 million, most of which comes from mandatory student fees.

It’s not easy writing a story that puts your own school in a negative light but Emma Sandri, the news editor at the Eyeopener and one of the writers who broke the original story, said that there was really no second thoughts about whether to run with this story. “Obviously you want students to know how their money is being spent, but can we confirm it and can we release it in a way that is 100 per cent accurate and ethical.”

As for further repercussions for those involved, it is unsure what will happen. “The school has been kind of mum on that front,” explained Sandri in an interview with the Observer. “They did meet with the board and the RSU which was sort of out of the ordinary. They don’t usually do that because they are separate entities.”

It is mandatory for students to pay into the union and it sets them back $78.50 per semester. No member of the RSU executive committee returned e-mails requesting comment. Voicemails left for Jay, deWever and Gosal went unanswered and Ganesh did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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Posted: Feb 14 2019 5:45 am
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