Ryerson cuts ties with student union, encourages students to form new group
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Friday, January 24, 2020 4:25PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 24, 2020 10:29PM EST
Ryerson University says it has torn up its three-decade-old governing agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union amid allegations of mismanagement and is advising students that they may have to form a new student government.
“Ryerson University has lost confidence in the RSU's ability to represent students with good governance and to supply the services that students pay for,” Ryerson Vice-Provost Jen McMillen said in a statement released Friday. “Ryerson University has made the difficult decision to terminate its 1986 Operating Agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).”
The move means that the university no longer recognizes the RSU as the official student government representing Ryerson students.
The move comes a year after the university learned of allegations that the 2018-2019 executive had misused student union funds.
In January 2019, Ryerson put the RSU on notice that it would no longer remit fees collected from students until a number of conditions were met.
The university demanded a forensic audit of RSU finances and access to the report, and that a new operating agreement be negotiated between the university and the student union.
In a statement issued earlier this week, the RSU said that it retained accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a review of the credit card expenses of a number of former RSU executives for the 2018-19 school year.
“After obtaining the analysis from the credit card review, the RSU has filed a police report with the Toronto Police Service,” the statement read. “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 students would have an opportunity to view the police report at a Feb. 4 meeting.
To date, no charges have been announced by police.
McMillen said Ryerson has yet to receive a copy of the audit and claimed that the RSU is no longer responding to efforts to negotiate a new agreement.
She said the university administration is also concerned about new allegations brought forward by students concerning improper governance, mismanagement, and internal conflict at the RSU.
McMillen said the university is encouraging students to consider forming a new student government. She said more information would be released in the coming days about the process for forming a new student union.
The university statement said Ryerson will work to ensure that key services such as health and dental benefits remain in place amid the turmoil.
The student union called the university's decision a “shock” and characterized it as an “attempted termination.”
“The RSU does not accept this termination as valid under the agreement,” it said in a statement.
“The RSU has always been willing to engage with the university, but refuses to make concessions to the university that will jeopardize students. The RSU will continue to operate and support students.”
The student union is set to hold a vote to elect a new executive next month.
- with files from The Canadian Press