Charges will likely
be laid against a Concordia Student Union employee in the theft of $196,000
from the CSU.
The loss represents nearly one-third of the $625,000 in fees that are
collected by the university from students and remitted to the CSU as their
main source of income for student associations, clubs and other activities.
The CSU operates independently of the university, hiring its own staff
and keeping its own books.
Suspicions were aroused in the late summer. A forensic accountant was
hired to go over the case, and on October 4, when CSU president Rob Green
was told that an employee had been cashing unauthorized cheques, the suspect
Green said in an e-mail interview that changes must be made to the CSUs
financial controls. In the wake of this crisis, the unions signing
authority has been transferred on an interim basis to CSU general manager
Rick Stom and council chair Patrice Blais. Control will be decentralized
to ensure checks and balances, and a controller will be hired.
The size of the theft has raised questions about how many people were
involved, but Green said the forensic accountant is still quite
certain that there is only one suspect.
The theft was announced by
the CSU just after the completion of a campaign to have the CSU accredited
by the provincial government. Voting was high in the referendum, held
October 10 to 13, thanks to a determined effort by electoral officers
that included taking polls into the classroom, and accreditation was approved
by 66 per cent.
Accreditation will mean that the CSU is the only association representing
all undergraduate and independent students. It was opposed by the engineering
and commerce students associations, ECA and CASA, which broke off
from the main association some years ago and provide other services to
However, CASA president Rabih Sebaaly takes the view that bringing all
students fully into the CSU may provide an opportunity to make changes.
When Green was asked if, as student union president, he feels in any way
responsible for the crisis, he replied, There are many that could
be blamed in this affair, myself, the university, the campus media, [CSU]
council, staff, and the bank included, but in my mind there is only one
person who is responsible and that is the person who perpetrated the crime.
- Barbara Black