The membership of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) failed to pass the organization’s 2017–2018 audited financial statements at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on December 3 due to a lack of quorum. According to the union’s finance commissioner, this puts the union at risk of defaulting to the university.
At the meeting, some GSU members complained that a draft report of the financial statements from the 2017–2018 fiscal year was not made available in their AGM packages, despite having to vote on the item. A portion of the meeting was spent debating how to logistically distribute the financial documents given the short notice.
Members were concerned over the failure to provide the financial statements in the agenda package. Members were supposed to receive the financial statements at least 13 days before the AGM.
Several members left the meeting out of frustration, though they suggested a future date for another general meeting.
After members left the room, the AGM lost quorum and the meeting was adjourned. A previously-scheduled General Council meeting was held immediately afterward.
During the General Council meeting, discussion followed on how to address the failure of the AGM to pass the 2017–2018 audited financial statements.
Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto claimed that the UTGSU would financially default to the university if the membership did not pass their audited financial statements for the past year.
During the General Council meeting, Rizzuto pointed out that The Varsity’s reporters were live-tweeting that meeting and had live-tweeted the events of the AGM.
The Varsity’s reporters were allowed to be present at the AGM on the condition that they neither take photographs nor live-tweet the events. Under direction from The Varsity’s editors, the reporters purposefully ignored the condition to not live-tweet the events of the AGM.
Conditional seating is an unusual request at student union meetings, and this is the first time that Varsity reporters have been faced with conditions to their presence at a student governance meeting in recent years.
There was no vote or objection to keep the reporters in the room or to allow them to continue their work.
Since The Varsity’s reporters were asked to leave the General Council meeting, it is unknown whether the audited financial statements were passed at that meeting.
Afterward, the UTGSU executive emailed The Varsity to say that “The UTGSU General Council/Board-of-Directors unanimously accepted the Draft 2017-2018 Financial Audit at the General Council/Board-of-Directors meeting on December 3, 2018.”
“The UTGSU Executive Committee has been in communication with the University of Toronto Office of the Vice-Provost (Students) and they have indicated and confirmed that the UTGSU is in good financial standing with the University of Toronto,” wrote the executives.
“A motion to appoint a financial auditor for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year will be presented at a future meeting of the General Membership. The UTGSU is not incorporated under the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) and is therefore not at risk of violating the Act.”
Editor’s Note (January 14, 2019, 5:32 pm): This article has been updated with the full comment from the UTGSU that The Varsity received on December 6, 2018.