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Haanim Nur talks to The Carillon about URSU and her resignation

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A 'stupid mistake' involving CFS funds was the factor

Taouba Khelifa
News Editor 

On June 13, 2012 – about a month into her position at the University of Regina's Students' Union (URSU) – Haanim Nur stepped down as president for personal reasons. While no one really knew or understood why Nur had resigned, her resignation opened up a vacant seat on the URSU executive for another candidate to run.

On Sept. 25 and 26, students cast their votes to elect a new president for the union. Nur's involvement with the Students' Union began in 2011 when she ran as the VP of Operations and Finances under the "Voice of Students" slate, and was elected. A year later, Nur ran for President in the 2012 elections with the "Students First" slate and was elected with 32.9% of the votes, beating the other two candidates – Nathan Sgrazzutti and Nick Faye.

Despite her win, Nur stepped down from what would have been a promising and exciting opportunity in student politics. But, things were more complicated – and politics got messy. 

Around the same time that Nur got involved with URSU, she also became involved with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) as the provincial chairperson. Past URSU president, Kent Peterson, also joined Nur as the national executive representative for Saskatchewan in the CFS.  

The CFS was formed in 1981 to provide students with a united voice in advocating to the government on issues affecting students across the country. They represent over 500,000 students and more than 80 university and college students' unions across Canada.    

URSU rekindled its relationship with CFS in 2011 after a much heated referendum in October of that year, which saw 51.6% of students vote to remain members of the CFS while 48.4% voted to leave. Currently, full-time students at the U of R pay $4.20 per year to CFS National and $1.40 per year to CFS Saskatchewan, while part-time students pay $2.10 and $0.70 respectively. In 2011 alone, students paid a collective $98,245.05 to the CFS chapters. 


"You hear rumours of other student union people being able to – I shouldn't say the term loosely – but getting away with stealing funds. I know it was a stupid thing to do, and it was the dumbest thing I've ever done." – Haanim Nur


Four months after her resignation, Nur sat down with the Carillon to talk about student politics, CFS, and her decision to resign. 

The Carillon: Tell the readers – what happened that led you to resign?

Nur: So, what happened is that I was the Chairperson for the [CFS], and Kent was the National Exec Rep. Just the both of us, we had control of the finances [for the CFS] in terms of that. We had [access] just for the provincial component, not the national fees. You hear rumours of other student union people being able to – I shouldn't say the term loosely – but getting away with stealing funds. I know it was a stupid thing to do, and it was the dumbest thing I've ever done. It's totally beneath me. I shouldn't have done it. I know that – but I did…When you look at it in reality…it should of never happened.  

The Carillon: Who all knew about this?  

Nur: I spoke to the people from the Federation [about this first], so we spoke about the matter, and figured out a solution. They just said, mistakes can happen, people move on, never do it again. And so, I continued to work with them during my term as president. Nobody from URSU knew at this point. It was just me and them. They [CFS] were like, you know, you continue doing your job as president and just make sure it just doesn't happen again. Ok – sounds good. So I continued on until Paige [Kezima - former VP External Affairs] decided to let the URSU board of directors know. [That's when] the board asked for my resignation.  

The Carillon: How do you feel about the time you spent with URSU? 

Nur: It was good. It was the best-slash-worst time of [my] life. You learn a lot. I gained all this experience in areas that I was interested in – like lobbying for students' needs, campaign work was really great, welcome week’s always fun, I had a great time. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of that.

The Carillon: Is there anything you want to let students know? 

Nur: Mistakes can be made. Stupid mistakes are made as well, but at the same time, people learn from them and move on, and continue their lives. But, it's also important to never make that mistake again. 

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  • John

    What's missing from all this is an apology. The fact that she had to be asked to resign, after being caught, says a lot. Otherwise, it's just like "Oh, student government? It was good. You learn a lot. Gain experience. Steal money. I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a part of that."
    Let's make student government accountable and press charges.

  • confused

    I read the article and still don't know why she resigned.  Did you guys leave out a paragraph or something.

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  • Matt Steen

    Wow… Not surprised URSU lost north of 6 figures last year. I wonder what she bought herself with that dough… 

  • Jesse Leontowicz

    Good for you Haanim on coming out with the reason for resigning, an apology however is sorely needed. I wonder what has happened to the stolen students money? Was it returned? Was Kent Peterson also implicated in stealing funds? I hope a further exploration of this issue comes to light; looking at you Carillon.

  • Lauren

    A lot of unanswered questions here. Looking forward to see what the Carillon can expose.

  • Nick Faye

    So Melissa Blackhurt gets charged with a DUI last year, it's published IN BLOCK LETTERS in The Carillon and is a the biggest deal on earth (a serious issue, but something completely outside of URSU responsibilities).
    This comes along and is just casually mentioned, and is buried in this article as "A stupid mistake". Something that is directly tied to her duties as an URSU Exec. Ohh boy, here we go:
    1) We were reassured during CFS referendum that the CFS is transparent and financially legitimate, even after many had raised concerns over this very issue. Is it really appropriate for them to say "Mistakes Happen" after learning that their fees were just casually siphoned off?
    2) Haanim was allowed to run and be elected AGAIN after the issue?
    3) We don't hear about this until now, months after Haanim resigns?
    4) Is it possible to deny that last year's URSU Executive were a terribly dysfunctional and incompetent mess?
     
    I am pretty damn angry right now.

  • Jesus’ fav girl

    how do u mistakenly steal money tho, *six figures for that matter* may jesus forgive u girl, because only him can see ur heart. but wait, what did u use that money for, buy a lot of cats or did u buy a bunch of face masks, cuz u my friend will need it when walking around in school. good luck, god bless.

  • Cassie

    Sooo, she stole money. Student money. Our money. And no one is pressing charges because…?

  • Sentinel

    She really just added to the theft that the CFS commits yearly against the U of R student body. To me theft is taking someone's property without someone's consent. To me, the 2010 referendum did not meet the criterian of consent since the CFS flew in representatives from around the country on our dollar. Its like taking someone's money then using it to hire lawyers to defend against the charge that you took someone's money.  It was a pretty simple argument back during the referendum in 2010: Education is administered by the provincial government so what is the point of having the CFS lobby at the federal level? Seems to me the only function of the CFS is to line its member's pockets and the pockets of their friends. But to them its not theft, its probably considered 'redistribution.' 

  • Jeff

    How much money was stolen? Was it returned? This article is poor, like our Journalism Department.

  • Jordan

    This is terrible reporting. Not at all clear what it is she actually did – did she straight up steal money, and if so, how much? As this article stands I don't even see the point of publishing it – it's just her rambling on without directly discussing what she did. Like someone else pointed out, she didn't apologize for it, either. 

  • Rank

    This person is essentially being praised and held up for being an honest thief.  What kind of half witted journalism is this?  I want to know how much was stolen, is it paid back/when, why charges were not laid, what students think and more importantly, how long has this been going on?  Just because you're a student doesn't mean you can get away with being a child.  Grown ADULTS – in a position of leadership – need to be held accountable.

  • Tyler Willox

    Once again CFS shows how truly incompetent they are. I was the VP Student affairs the year of the referendum. Our executive understood how much money was wasted in our dues to CFS. It would have been different if we received some of services CFS claimed to provide, but URSU actually received zero services from CFS for years before the referendum. Year after year URSU would donate $90,000 + We now see that we weren't just padding the pockets of Ontario Student Unions' but actually CFS individuals who are regulary stealing.  CFS is an incompetent, corrupt, disfunctional group that should not be trusted with student funds. They will do anything to convince students they are a representative for them so they can continue to receive the excessive fees they charge. Just remember, the students who were at the University of Regina that year were actually students flown in from Toronto to convince you their organization was good for you! They were not students from Regina who understand your needs or issues, it was students from Ontario (the only Student Unions that benefit from CFS). 

  • Jessica Dieter

    This is disgraceful.  I can't stand the casual tone in her response, it is like she just on accident slipped money into her purse and ohhh OOOOPs sorry guys it won't happen again.  Disgusting.  

  • Jeff

    I would like to know who, on behalf of the students that the URSU apparently doesn't represent, is going to be contacting the RCMP to investigate this theft, and if/when charges will be laid against Haanim Nur.
    This is not acceptable. And the total lack of response by URSU and CFS for that matter illustrates a systemic breakdown of fiscal accountability and responsibility to UofR students, past and present.

  • Cassie

    Is there any way that students could approach the new president and ask for a meeting for the information of the case (which isn't fully disclosed in this article) and then ask how an investigation could proceed?

  • Nancy

    What Haanim did, she got her punishment, she resigned from something that she truly loved! However, the question is who all knew about this? And why they didn't do anything about it? As far as i know (Kent and Paige) knew but they only revealed this after Haanim got elected as a president and denied to support their dirty game! Come on U of R, open your eyes…Haanim got caught, but in the name of CFS there are other people that are doing the same thing and we are supporting them! SAY NO TO CFS!

  • Herp Derp

    This is a criminal act. I'm sure RPS just needs to be made aware of this, and they could press charges.

  • Whitney

    What the HECK. Being caught and forced to resign is NOT a just punishment! That money needs to be returned, and charges need to be pressed! We are all adults here and she should therefore be treated as one. Also, it would be nice for the student body to be able to trust that they aren't going into thousands of dollars of debt, so that their money can be stolen. This is a very serious issue.

  • Jesse Leontowicz

    Rank, I totally agree. Haanim is 20 or 21, an adult who made an adult decision. When you break the law like this, you face the consequences. This is not high school and this is not monoply money that was stolen. This really highlights how awful the CFS is run, when someone steals their money they simply say, "well dont do it again! continue with your job though" ??? What kind of corrupt organization is the CFS to just let that shit slide and not make it public to the students THEY SERVE and who continually page the government for TRANSPARENCY. Hypocrisy at its finest.

  • Kristy

    I agree with the outrage – this is a SERIOUS issue, which should have SERIOUS consequences! Also… don't we deserve more details about the situation? This article raises much more questions than it answers… what happened to this stolen money… how much even was it, and who all was involved? Are there going to be any measures taken so this CAN'T happen again? The vagueness is killing me!

  • http://www.saskforum.ca SaskForum

    Ridiculous that she isn't facing charges. U of R students are forced to pay CFS fees after the contentious referendum we faced a while back, and now when the URSU president-elect steals that money from CFS it is fair to say she is stealing from every U of R student. 
    Even more ridiculous that the Carillon doesn't even seem to TRY to hold her accountable. This is the most vague and eyebrow-raising article run by this paper in a while.
    Maybe a REAL news outlet like CBC will look into this and will actually try to ask some hard questions and not let the powers that be dance around the issue.

  • David Fraser

    @ Jeff re: "How much money was stolen? Was it returned? This article is poor, like our Journalism Department"

    I'd ask you investigate a matter before critiquing, Jeff. The Carillon is not affiliated with the School of Journalism.

    Journalism grads from the U of R make up a good chunk of what you see on CTV, CBC and Global every night. You read the stories of j-schoolers and its grads in the Leader-Post and StarPhoenix. The School of Journalism is one of the few programs at this university that places every one of its students into a paid internship. That wouldn't happen if the program was "poor"

    We have something like an 80% hiring rate of grads. Students from the school have won national awards and are consistently selected  for highly competitive internships.

    Over the last two years, The Carillon has largely deteriorated into a mediocre student-press: the coverage of this being proof of that.

    Please don't lump the two together.

    In re: to this article:

    Hey Carillon,

    Thanks for finally letting the student body know why we actually had a by-election for a new URSU president.
    Two questions:
    1) Why wasn't the student press aware of this earlier? I'm not in the student press, but heard rumors months ago regarding why Nur wasn't working. Shouldn't your reporters have had their ear to the ground low enough to figure this out earlier – especially since it was brought up at a BoD meeting?
     
    2) How much money!? That's student cash. An apology is nice. Many will be sympathetic to Nur, but come on! If this was Addison two years ago you would have given this relentless coverage. This very much seems like personal relationships getting in the way or responsible journalism.

    All my dealings with Haanim have been cordial. She is intelligent, engaging and showed political potential; but the Carillon letting off a student rep. so cordially is shameful.

     

  • John

    Pretty clear mandate for Nathan Sgrazzutti to begin investigating, as his first order of business, wouldn't you say?

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  • Joe

    Good riddance to Kent Peterson and Haanim Nur, they will go down as the worst execs URSU has ever had.

  • Chris

    Dear Kent Peterson,

    Karma hurts!

  • K

    For those wanting a better explanation than this awful, one-sided article, I implore you to visit CFS SASK's Facebook page where there is a written response to this article that outlines what exactly happened and how it all went down…
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_M0_U8MnB3GaHVlT0p3NnVoR0E/edit?pli=1

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  • Eric

    People, people. I know you want more information, but clearly the Carillon does not have the supporting documents it needs as proof to actually publish a story directly accusing somebody of theft. Give it some time, and I am sure that more information will come out. 

  • JOKE

    WHERE IS THE STUDENT ADDRESS? I AM SO ANGRY… some don't even have access to this. And please, do not blame the journalism school… I suggest some research on your part… but really?? A slap on the wrist is what she gets..

  • Jesse Leontowicz

    Re: David Fraser,
    You're completely right about the Carillon and the School of Journalism being separate entities. But that raises the question of why the Carillon is so short staffed when there is an entire school of high quality journalism students. If I had to hire a journalism student, I'd ask why they never volunteered for their struggling newspaper with open spots. Especially the article focused journalism students; very eye brow raising.

  • David Fraser

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    Re: Jesse Leontowicz
    Fair point you raise.
    There are a number of j-schoolers who cut their chops working for the Carillon before entering the program.

    J-school is very labour intensive, and it's tough to balance school life with an extra-curricular like the Carillon. From my own experience, it seems many of us j-schoolers would rather spend our limited hours of freedom doing something other than more journalism!
    As per usual, there are exceptions to this: Jarret Crowe and Jon Hamelin are active-Carilloners and successful J-schoolers in the current 4th year class. A few of the Carillon board members this year are j-schoolers, too.

    One thing I'll suggest is for more students to visit jschool.ca : it isn't updated as frequently as the Carillon, but it does showcase some of the work being done at the School of Journalism. There's also the Crow and a number of radio programs/documentaries produced by the j-school.

    As for your hiring practices, I'd leave those decisions to editors/producers/news directors: many of them  j-school grads themselves. The Carillon can be influential on a resume, but I think impressing at a 13-week internship and producing high-quality journalism through the school is invaluable experience that most employers won't ignore.

    Cheers! 

    In other news: the Leader-Post and CBC are chasing this story now!

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