Fixing a Financial Fiasco

CUSACorp Aims to be Auditable

Photo Pierre Chauvin

Called “un-auditable” by an accounting firm due to shoddy inventory-keeping practices, big changes are coming to CUSACorp, the for-profit wing of the Concordia Student Union.

“We’re on draft three [of the new bylaws] now, and we’ve sent it to our lawyer to look over,” said CSU VP Advocacy Morgan Pudwell, who sits on the CUSACorp Board of Directors.
In September 2010, a report from accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, who acts as the CSU’s auditor, stated that “[CUSACorp] derives revenue from cash sales, the completeness of which is not susceptible of satisfactory audit verification.”

According to CSU President Lex Gill, the nebulous status of CUSACorp’s finances can be traced back to Reggie’s. The campus bar, which accounts for a large portion of CUSACorp’s income, is a cash business—that is, a business that deals primarily in cash payments, which are much less trackable than debit or credit card payments—and has suffered from a lack of proper inventory and Point of Sale systems, including a way to control how much alcohol is poured into a drink, or a way to monitor drinks given away for free.

“We’re putting in a liquor control system,” said Gill in an interview with The Link in August. “Shots are measured, pints are measured. This will go a long way towards getting us audited. We think we will be auditable by the end of the year.”

Another problem that has plagued CUSACorp is abuses of power by members of its Board of Directors. Pudwell noted that in the past, it was not uncommon for members of the Board to go behind the bar and start serving up free drinks.

“That was sometimes a problem, because it took away tip opportunities for the staff that have been working there regularly,” said Pudwell. “The Board, as it should be, is about choosing the direction for the company and not about the day-to-day operations and getting behind the bar.”

Along with the new systems in place at Reggie’s and the changes to the Board’s power, the Board that controls CUSACorp is also facing significant structural changes, beginning with the removal of the position of president.

“It’s a huge restructuring,” said Pudwell. “The Board looks like it will be seven people, [made up of] five students and no more than three CSU executives. [There will also be] two external members, people from the community like lawyers or accountants, that will be able to add a professional sort of tone and insight into how to run a business properly, and allow for continuity.”

Pudwell also explained that the VP Finance of the CSU, a position currently held by Jordan Lindsay, will be required to serve as the Treasurer of CUSACorp and will have to give regular reports to the CSU Council, the sole shareholder of the corporation.

Changes may also be coming to other CUSACorp-controlled areas, such as the Java U in the mezzanine of the Hall Building. Pudwell expressed a desire to have CUSACorp implement new ethical and sustainable standards in all its operations, which could include actions such as negotiating a bottled water ban in the café when its contract comes up for renewal. The new systems at Reggie’s may also expand to the as-yet unopened Hive Café.

This article originally appeared in Volume 32, Issue 02, published September 6, 2011.