An email surfaced within the University of Saskatchewan community on March 5 claiming illegal activity within the Graduate Students’ Association perpetrated by its president, Izabela Vlahu.
The email outlines the following examples of alleged corruption from the GSA president: the signing of her own cheques in order to dole out money which she has not been authorized to pay herself; claiming and being paid for chairing a GSA council meeting on Nov. 26, 2014 which did not have quorum, then using lack of quorum at a separate council meeting as grounds for not fully paying the regular council chair Samer Assaf; using GSA funds to pay for meals under the pretence of business-related meetings without transparent documentation detailing the nature of said expenditures; and abusing the right to claim childcare expenses while travelling as a representative of the GSA.
A series of images were attached alongside the email claiming to provide documented proof of Vlahu’s alleged indiscretions, including photographs of cheque stubs, expense claim forms, receipts and time sheets.
When reached for comment, Vlahu verified that the photographs had been taken from within the GSA offices.
“Yes, documents were accessed at the GSA in the executive office by unauthorized individuals,” Vlahu said.
During her time as president, Vlahu has been no stranger to controversy. In October, the Sheaf reported on a group of 13 graduate students who had come forward seeking her impeachment due to allegations which included the aforementioned mishandling of travel bursaries. The issue was brought to council on Nov.17, but fell without a vote due to lack of the necessary 56 councillors required to pass a vote of non-confidence.
Though the validity of the claims in the email cannot be verified as of this time, the alleged misconduct outlined suggests that Vlahu claimed a total of $700 from the GSA for childcare expenses amassed during a four-day travel period to attend the national general meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students, with $160 of these funds coming directly from the GSA and the remaining $540 having been awarded to the association by the CFS.
The email also directed to the Government of Saskatchewan website’s frequently asked questions subsection, which outlines the cost of childcare as ranging from $346–$642 per month depending on the chosen method of childcare.
Vlahu has declined to comment further on the allegations listed in the email.
“I don’t intend to be answering anything on allegations based on illegally obtained documents,” she said.
However, Vlahu did say that an audit was in the process of being scheduled prior to the recent leaks.
“Financial documents are reviewed by external auditors and they provide a report on that, so that’s what’s going to happen to all financial records,” Vlahu said. “There was a meeting with the auditors a couple of weeks ago, and the decision was made to start the audit as early as next week.”
A special council meeting has been called for March 9 to discuss the leaked documents, as per a petition put forward with 11 signatures from GSA council members.
In an email sent out to graduate students, vice-president operations and communications Xin Lu gave further indication that Vlahu would not be acknowledging the leaked documents as of this time and that an audit is being pursued.
“Please be advised that the president will not be responding to allegations based on illegally obtained documents. All financial records of the GSA are reviewed by certified external auditors. To date no mismanagement of funds has been determined,” Lu said.
It is not currently known who is responsible for photographing and leaking the GSA documents, though Vlahu did indicate that U of S protective services has been contacted and are already investigating the matter.
Photo: HenryTye Glazebrook/News Editor