On November 20, 2014 the Carleton Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA) issued a statement in response to media reports of its $706,000 deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Rather than explaining why he previously claimed that there was a surplus when in fact there was a deficit, CUSA President Folarin Odunayo opted to blame the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA).
These allegations will be addressed below under ‘The Facts.’ However, there is a bigger issue here that needs to be highlighted. CUSA’s executives, elected as part of the ‘A Better Carleton’ (ABC) political slate, chose to cover-up their deficit by hiding their audit from their members and from CUSA Council, in a direct violation of CUSA’s By-Laws and the Corporations Act of Ontario. CUSA’s president lied about the deficit and, as evidenced by his statements to the Charlatan and the Ottawa Sun, continues to do so.
At the Council meeting on July 25, 2013, President Odunayo, who was then VP Finance, publicly stated that CUSA had a surplus of $124,000 for 2012-2013, according to the official CUSA Council minutes. It has taken Odunayo 16 months, the threat of a motion at CUSA Council, and the enquiries of three newspapers, to finally correct his statement and admit that CUSA was actually in a deficit position.
In the November 20, 2014 statement, Odunayo has said that the audit was available on CUSA’s website in January 2014. In fact, the date on the independent audit is February 3, 2014, and the Internet Archive reveals that as late as September 12, 2014, the audit was not available online.
The attempt to hide a large deficit and then blame it on others does not make for A Better Carleton. Graduate students voted overwhelmingly in March and September 2014 to stop handing a blank cheque to an unaccountable and financially irresponsible CUSA executive. Carleton Senior Administration has thus far refused to indicate whether the democratic will of graduate students will be respected.
The GSA has nothing to do with CUSA’s massive deficit and embarrassing financial situation. Any money potentially owed to CUSA from the GSA has already been counted in CUSA’s audited statements as an “accounts receivable.” By suggesting that CUSA’s deficit is somehow the fault of the GSA, Odunayo has revealed his inability to understand his own financial statements. The money -though disputed- is accounted for as part of their asset balance.
A Pattern of Financial Concealment?
CUSA’s ABC executives have failed to provide the GSA with basic financial information as to how funds collected from graduate students and transferred to CUSA are used. For two years, the CUSA executive has rebuffed the GSA’s requests for information on the funding of clubs and societies.
The 2012-2013 year was tumultuous with many other problems arising. CUSA’s ABC executive redefined the word ‘referendum’ to mean a vote of three people. This was an attempt to exit student health plan agreements with the GSA that required either mutual agreement or a referendum vote. Following CUSA’s order to purge GSA materials from all CUSA spaces, the GSA withdrew from the University Centre agreement. CUSA also gave a no-bid or sole source contract to the 2011-2012 CUSA President’s company for the ill-fated concert of pro-rape artist Rick Ross. Odunayo has disclosed that the concert, cancelled due to widespread student uproar, contributed to CUSA’s financial deficit. It is poor decisions such as these, which lack sound ethical and financial judgment, that have placed the GSA in a situation where it cannot trust CUSA with the management of graduate students’ money.