SFSS Board does not carry motion to conduct a forensic audit on Fall Kickoff 2019

After hearing from an auditor about options, SFSS Council may request that the Board conduct an audit

Photo: Chris Ho / The Peak

Written by: Michelle Gomez, Assistant News Editor

The Board of Directors voted against a motion to authorize Executive Director Sylvia Ceacero to explore options for a forensic audit, an external audit, or a review by an external contractor of Fall Kickoff 2019. 

VP Student Life Jessica Nguyen addressed the Board, stating, “I want to make it clear [ . . . ] I know that my team and myself and everyone who was involved in this project followed due process from start to end [ . . . ] We did not break any bylaws or have any nefarious illegal activities happening, so bring it on.” 

Shina Kaur, VP University Relations, brought up the difference between conducting a forensic audit to determine if there was any negligence in the planning of Fall Kickoff or having a consultant look at what happened and make recommendations on how to improve future events. 

Health Sciences Representative Osob Mohamed noted that “I don’t think anybody thinks that criminal activity actually happened in this case, but the fact is that something that hasn’t happened before with Fall Kickoff must have happened this year to have a deficit that was so unordinary.”

Mohamed concluded that “If we can invest the money now into making sure that this never happens again, this can prevent us from spending $100,000 next year [ . . . ] I think we’ve lost a lot of credibility in this process.”

Ceacero stated: “I am in favour of whatever audit the Board wants for us to take on. I know with 100% certainty that myself and my team [ . . . ] have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s in this process.”

When Ceacero initially came back to the Board with a brief summary following the event, nobody on the SFSS Board requested further information.

“That was not brought up until two months later when Corbett [Gildersleve] brought the presentation to the Board.” 

During the meeting, Ceacero also reiterated her opinion that the SFSS should not throw a Fall Kickoff. She also mentioned that the Board members would be done by mid-April, and by the time an audit is conducted, the Board will not be present to be held accountable. 

Nguyen elaborated on how Fall Kickoff 2019 was a large improvement from previous years with regard to student safety. She noted that while the 2017 Kickoff Concert was financially successful, “It really largely damaged the relationship between the SFSS and SFU, because SFU claims that one [had] 83 casualties.” 

Casualties, as explained by Nguyen, referred to “Unresponsive, unconscious students just on grass around campus.” She emphasized that the most recent concert had zero casualties. 

According to Nguyen, many costs of the 2019 concert went toward student safety, including paying for more security personnel, registered nurses, an ambulance on standby, and a bus to transport students to campus safely. 

“We held a very safe, good event [ . . . ] we built the relationship with SFU. When we had our last wrap-up meeting they were very excited to start planning for the next one, and that was not the case in 2017,” Nguyen concluded. 

VP External Relations Jasdeep Gill said that “At the end of the day, the investments that we made were necessary in order to make sure that this event went off with protecting our students — and you can’t put a price on that.” 

She added “I’m not comfortable with approving this and basically accusing our staff [ . . . ] of doing any wrongdoing because none of that took place.” 

The motion was not carried. 

In the Council meeting the following Wednesday, there was a motion for the Council to submit a request for the Board to conduct an independent forensic audit on the event. 

HoSang stated that Ceacero had met with an independent auditor, and that the Board decided to give Council the opportunity to learn from the auditor about the different options available to them. 

He explained that although the Board did not carry the motion to conduct an audit, they would like to have the auditor come in to discuss the options “With students that have been calling for a forensic audit as well as the Council and the Board so that the request for an audit, regardless of what it is, can be done [ . . . ] with all of your deliberations accounted for.” 

Council decided to postpone the motion until the next meeting.