Following a budgetary investigation conducted in the early months of 2017, Cinema Studies Student Union (CINSSU) President Sharif Wehbe discovered discrepancies in the Innis College Student Society’s (ICSS) report of CINSSU’s budget. The report, entitled “CINSSU Financial Investigation” and proposed by former ICSS President Khrystyna Zhuk on November 21, 2016, had summarized the findings of an investigation into the union’s expenses.
The investigation aimed to review the necessity of continued ICSS funding given CINSSU already receives funding from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), the Arts and Science Student Association (ASSU), and media companies such as Warner Bros., EOne, and Mongrel Media. The ICSS provides CINSSU with 4.44 per cent of its total annual revenue, collected through a levy.
The 2015–2016 academic year ICSS report stated CINSSU’s expenditure amounted to $30,637.22, which was $3,017.08 greater than CINSSU reported internally. Similarly, the 2014–2015 ICSS report stated expenditure was $27,945.65, which was $2,396.90 greater than CINSSU had reported that academic year. Wehbe claimed that the ICSS report was not verified by anyone in CINSSU who had access to the financial files. “There are many things that are either incorrect numbers or simply made up,” Wehbe alleged to The Varsity. “Expenses [on the ICSS report] such as misc and new camera are fabricated.” Wehbe claimed that the report also failed to include many events that CINSSU organized for both its students and the Innis community.
The ICSS financial report from 2015–2016 claims that, among other expenses, CINSSU spent $261.85 on alcohol, $163.93 on team bonding, $600.32 on socials, $2,344.49 on the aforementioned miscellaneous expenses, and $45.18 on the aforementioned new camera.
According to the ICSS report, 3.07 per cent of the college’s students are in the Cinema Studies program.
The ICSS report differs from CINSSU’s report with regard to revenue numbers in 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 as well. The 2015–2016 ICSS report states CINSSU received $19,248.91 in revenue, whereas CINSSU’s report states they received $20,678.91 in revenue. The 2014–2015 ICSS report states $26,772.23 in revenue, compared to CINSSU’s reported $27,943.58 in revenue.
The ICSS also reported $271.20 in levy fees paid to CINSSU in 2015–2016 and $5,821.20 in 2014–2015; CINSSU reported $0 and $5,821.20 respectively. In a written message to The Varsity, Troy Peschke, Vice-President Finance of the ICSS in 2016–2017, explained that “in 15-16 the VP Finance and CINSSU came to an agreement to reduce the contribution in that year because CINSSU felt they didnt [sic] need the full levy.”
Despite the discrepancies, current ICSS President Yolanda Alfaro wrote to The Varsity that “all of the information presented in the [ICSS] report was sought out from CINSSU’s financial documentation, as well as the Innis College registrar and the head of the Cinema Studies department.” Alfaro added that, “The CINSSU executives at that time were also consulted and were comfortable with the information that was presented.”
Peschke denied claims that the ICSS report was inaccurate. Peschke explained that the miscellaneous category in the ICSS report contained data from items that could not be placed under any other category because they were either unrelated to particular events of initiatives or CINSSU’s record entries were not detailed enough.
Wehbe stated that CINSSU does not plan to take any action regarding the recent discovery of the alleged errors in the ICSS report. He wrote, “I have informed the current [ICSS] president of the mistake and [we] are still going to continue our positive relationship.” Wehbe added, “To the best of my knowledge both CINSSU and ICSS are amenable to continue our relationship.” He also confirmed that CINSSU is in the process of digitizing its books and reports, as to avoid similar errors in the future.
Wehbe and Alfaro have engaged in several meetings over the summer to maximize the benefit of both Innis and Cinema Studies students. “We have begun the year with a very positive and open relationship between the two councils and we have every intention to continue along this path,” Alfaro wrote.
Brianne Katz-Griffin, President of ICSS during the 2016–2017 year, did not respond to comment requests from The Varsity.
— With files from Evan Maude.
Disclosure: The Varsity’s Video Editor, Shaq Hossein, was President of CINSSU during the 2016–2017 year. The Varsity’s Comment Editor, Teordora Pasca, was Vice President Internal of the ICSS during the 2016–2017 period.