Report highlights executives’ questionable credit card use, absence from office
On Wednesday, Jan. 11, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Board of Administration (BOA) held a special meeting to discuss outstanding business on the agenda.
Following the adoption of the agenda, Jordan Kent, a first-year U of O student in political science and history brought up that la Rotonde had “leaked” the SFUO’s corporate maintenance report, and asked why the SFUO executive chose to keep the report private. The report itself called for “important changes in the corporate governance structure of the SFUO,” and that negligence by members of the executive to comply with the provisions laid out in the report could lead to fines or imprisonment.
SFUO president Roméo Ahimakin responded by saying that if they had voluntarily made the report public it could have damaged the SFUO’s reputation and put the federation in a “dangerous situation.”
Comptroller general’s report
The majority of the meeting centred around a report by comptroller general Tanner Tallon, which raised concerns over the “expenses and behaviours” of members of the executive, specifically Ahimakin and vice-president of finance Rizki Rachiq.
“We’re paying a salary to the president when he’s not in the office,” said Tallon in reference to Ahimakin’s overuse of the fifteen allotted vacation days for executives.
Tallon said that while vice-president of university affairs Vanessa Dorimain and vice-president services and communications Francesco Caruso have “great attendance records,” Rachiq, vice-president equity Morissa Ellis, and vice-president social Hadi Wess are often not in the office and failed to communicate their absences to the rest of the executive, despite being required to work 40 hours in the office.
Tallon noted that Rachiq has missed multiple meetings, while according to his Snapchat he was at Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Québec.
“Staff are unable to do their work in a timely manner,” said Tallon, expressing that even though members of the executive are at times in the SFUO office, they are not in their own offices or they have visitors to their office, and so there is “no way to tell if they are fulfilling their mandate.”
In a tweet to the Fulcrum, Morgan Leung, vice-president of finance for the Conflict Studies and Human Rights Students’ Association, also said that Rachiq has only held one roundtable with the vice presidents of finance from the federated bodies on campus.
— Morgan Leung (@MoLeung65) January 12, 2017
Tallon then brought up credit card expenditures by members of the executive, which are often not being submitted on time.
“This is not new behaviour,” said Tallon. He also raised concerns over Ahimakin’s phone bill which is tied to the company credit card, a connection that he said is “essentially breaking policy.”
Tallon recommended that a finance policy manual should be implemented, specifically in regards to credit card use and vacation time, and that members of the executive submit time sheets of their hours in the office at each BOA meeting. He also suggested that the meeting go in-camera.
Following the presentation of the report, Ahimakin asked if Tallon had consulted with all members of the executive who were audited, to which Tallon responded that only Rachiq, Dorimain, and Caruso were consulted.
Wess said he found it “unfair and unprofessional” that not all members of the executive were consulted during Tallon’s audit, further explaining that due to the nature of his position he is often out of the office speaking to students, which justifies his absence.
Rachiq then said that Tallon raising the point of him being at Nordik Spa-Nature was a personal matter and including this in the report was unprofessional on Tallon’s part.
Dorimain also found the report to be biased and was in favour of moving in-camera as per Tallon’s recommendations.
On the point of credit card expenditures, Kent asked if the late payments will be paid “by those responsible,” or “left to the federation’s cost to pick up the tab.”
Root responded that “there is no money owing to the SFUO by any individual.”
The remainder of the meeting was held in-camera, despite Ahimakin’s opposition to this decision in favour of transparency.
Prior to the presentation of the comptroller general’s report, the board was notified of vacant positions on several committees by secretary Jesse Root. These groups included the constitutional committee, the disciplinary committee, the finance committee, the General Assembly outreach committee, the University of Ottawa Student Emergency Response Team (UOSERT) advisory committee, the policy and bylaw committee, and the accessibility committee.
Board members then proceeded to nominate new members to the vacant seats, either through self-nomination or nomination by another member in the case of an absence.
The nominated members for the vacant seats then had a short debate period, followed by voting by ballot.
Faculty of Arts representative Tristan Lamonica was appointed to the vacant seat in the finance committee.
Jeffry Collin from the Faculty of Engineering and Lee Chitty from the Faculty of Law’s common law section were appointed to the two vacant seats in the policy and bylaw committee.
Ahimakin and Faculty of Engineering representative Princejeet Singh were appointed to the two vacant seats in the elections committee.
The vacant seats on other committees have yet to be filled.
Ahimakin also noted during this time that he will not be running for a position in the upcoming SFUO general election.