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New Ryerson student union president connected to previous scandal

The new president of the Ryerson Students’ Union is connected to the previous expense scandal at the RSU.
Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC

A Ryerson student who has been involved with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) expense scandal has been elected president.

Ali Yousaf, the presidential candidate from the slate Rise, won the RSU election a week ago. Yousaf won against the presidential candidate from the slate Inspire, Charmaine Reid, by 109 votes. Yousaf received 510 votes, and Reid earned 401 votes.

Yousaf was involved with former RSU president Ram Ganesh’s slate during his presidential campaign. Ganesh was impeached pending an investigation into overspending on the student union’s credit card account in February 2019. The credit card statement, which had Ganesh’s name on it, included questionable exorbitant purchases at LCBO locations, a shisha lounge, and restaurants.

Yousaf engaged in alleged financial mismanagement with 6 Fest in 2017. A portion of the money meant for refunding students who could not attend the concert went into the personal bank accounts of Yousaf, Ganesh, and former vice president of student life and events Harman Singh. Yousaf was a board member at the time, and Ganesh had been working as a student life and events assistant.

Students have been speculating on social media about if Yousaf will shut down the police investigation into the credit card scandal, as Ganesh and him are close friends. Ganesh halted an investigation into Yousaf’s involvement with 6 Fest, so students are wondering if history will reoccur. The RSU filed a report with Toronto police about the credit card scandal.

This election comes after Ryerson terminated their operating agreement with the RSU for not fulfilling parts of their contract on Jan. 24. A legal claim was filed by the RSU against Ryerson. The RSU is seeking $2.7 million in damages for breach of contract, the release of student fees withheld by Ryerson, $100,000 in punitive damages, a declaration acknowledging the university is in breach with their operating agreement with the student union, and their legal fees.

Voting for the RSU election was held in the Student Campus Centre from Feb. 12 to 14. Students could not vote online like they did last year and instead were required to use paper ballots.

The results were supposed to be released by 9 p.m. last Friday, but counting took hours longer than expected, according to vice president of operations James Fotak. Results were not tallied until 4 a.m. on Saturday.

Fotak said that 965 students voted in the RSU election. Ryerson has 36,347 students, so this means voter turnout was about 2.7 percent.

Yousaf will lead an executive team that consists entirely of candidates who ran from Rise. The four other elected executives are Liora Dubinsky as vice president of operations, Vaishali Vinayak as vice president of equity, Siddhanth Satish as vice president of education, and Usama Sheikh as vice president of student life and events.

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