Welcome Week has passed, students are settled, but one student group’s presence is noticeably absent from campus: the Inter-Residence Council.

On May 11, 2016, the IRC received a letter from the dean of students Sean Van Koughnett and director of Housing and Conference Services Kevin Beatty, which stated that their organization would no longer be a university-recognized group on campus.

According to the letter the IRC sent out to all IRC Welcome Week reps, “[the dean of students’ office] had made this decision as a result of a financial review of the IRC by the University’s Internal Audit department conducted at the request of the Dean of Students, past policy violations by the IRC, and the events leading up to the IRC’s organizational ‘pause’ in 2014-2015.” The IRC executive team is currently in the process of appealing this decision, and should have an answer by the end of this semester.

The IRC served as the representative voice of on-campus students, who aimed to facilitate community among residences through programming. The IRC held events such as the IRC formal, were credited with extending Centro hours during exam periods, as well as giving out IRC clipboards and creating a yearbook.

Despite being on hiatus, students still pay the IRC fee, which was confirmed by McMaster Students Union president Justin Monaco-Barnes during the Student Representative Assembly meeting on Sept. 11 during the question period. The university is collecting that money.

This is not the first time the IRC has been shut down. In Dec. 2014, the IRC was also shut down briefly as it went through restructuring to better the organization of the group. This restructuring involved the creation of more volunteer positions and a shift towards advocacy and providing first-year and residence students ways to get involved.

It was also during that school year that members of the IRC were accused of committing sexual assault on campus, as reported by McMaster’s Security Services crime beat website on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. It is unclear whether these allegations have any connections to the 2014 shutdown.

The IRC also has a history of issues relating to their budget. For example, in the 2014-2015 school year, the IRC spent $68,592 on honorariums for those involved, $17,000 on the IRC clipboards while spending $36,100 on residence programming.

When asked about the dysfunction of the group, IRC president Nikhil Kumar stated, “What we feel is that the actions of individual people should not reflect on the entire organization, as the organization didn’t do or promote anything about that.”

Kumar did not go into the details of the dysfunction itself.

When the Silhouette approached dean of students Sean Van Koughnett if he was available to make a statement, he responded that he would not be able to comment until after the appeals process due to the confidentiality of the appeals process.

For the foreseeable future, the IRC’s status remains up in the air while the group’s executive team appeals the dean of students’ decision. It is still unclear whether or not the financial audit or the allegations of dysfunction are more to blame, but will be made clear through the appeal.

 

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