Three Years Without Oversight
No Audit at the Graduate Student Association since 2008
Due to an inadequate filing system that seemingly involved stuffing receipts into brown envelopes, Concordia’s Graduate Student Association hasn’t undergone a full financial review since 2008, as auditors have lacked proper documentation.
“Our auditors have been working on a statement that everything has been audited for the past three years,” said GSA President Adnan Abueid. “Every time we ask them to finalize the audits, we have been told that they are missing information.”
With Abueid committed to having a successful audit at the end of the GSA’s fiscal year—coinciding with when he steps down as president in June—the university’s graduate representatives have overhauled their financial accounting system.
“This year, I will be comfortable having an audit,” said Abueid, as he described the GSA’s use of Excel to maintain records. “However my financial manager has told me that to have an audited year, the previous year must have also been audited.
“So I’m not too sure what is going to happen.”
Erik Chevrier served as the GSA’s VP External during one of the years when an audit was not completed—he couldn’t explain the oversight by the graduate association.
“I’m not sure how the books were kept; I know that someone was keeping records, but I don’t know exactly what wasn’t kept well,” said Chevrier, who served as VP External from 2007 to 2009.
Unlike the Concordia Student Union, whose budget is nearly $2 million, the GSA has only $250,000 at its disposal. Due to the association’s limited financial means, it has been unable to hire a permanent employee to keep track of expenses.
“We are working on hiring a full-time staff member. Currently, we have five part time students working one day a week,” said Abueid. “This has created problems with communications and proper file-keeping.”
Some minor steps were taken by this year’s executive to help rectify the problem. The contracts of the GSA’s part-time employees were changed to cover the period from July-to-July, overlapping with the June-to-June terms of elected representatives.
“It will cost us something like $50,000 to hire a salaried employee and we are looking for where to find that money,” said Abueid. “The main issue is not whether we need a full time employee or not; its where we will find the money to pay him. Everybody agrees that we need a full-time employee.”
Abueid said that he might need to cut money from the GSA’s other budget lines to pay the employee, a painful process which could lead to cuts in the amount of money given to each departmental association.
According to CSU VP External & Projects Adrien Severyns, the hiring of a full-time employee would be important for the association’s legitimacy.
“No matter how much money you make or how many donations you receive, it’s important to track how much money goes in and out,” said Severyns.
The CSU VP confirmed that he had heard some concerns about the perceived lack of an audit from undergraduate students who worked with the GSA.