By Sonja Puzic
Ryerson Students’ Union has filed an application in court to take legal action against the Palin Foundation in a continuing battle over the Student Campus Centre.
“The lawyer for RSU and CESAR has informed Palin that it’s being taken to court because it had no right to dissolve the Oakham House foundation,” said Palin Foundation Chair Ron Stagg. The groups have been fighting over control of the SCC and the student services it provides since May.
They decided to cease negotiations and seek legal counsel on Sept. 21 when the majority of Palin Foundation board members moved to dissolve the Oakham House Management Committee. Since then, Ryerson President Sheldon Levy has stepped in to offer a quicker resolution in the form of a mediation process. Although all parties agreed to return to the negotiating table, the process of selecting a mediator has dragged on, causing frustration and impatience.
“A mediator was supposed to be decided on by Nov.4,” said RSU President Rebecca Rose. “We’re very happy to go into mediation but people are dragging their feet on this.” Stagg said he doesn’t see a valid reason for legal action. “We don’t understand why (the RSU) is doing this. We all agreed to mediation.” Stagg said if the court rules in RSU’s favour, the termination of the Oakham House management agreement will be deemed invalid and the RSU will “carry on doing the things they want to do.”
Rose defended RSU’s actions on the grounds that it’s doing what’s best under the circumstances. “We had to (go to the courts) so that we can avoid further legal action,” she said. “We have people acting unilaterally and that is negatively affecting the students. It’s absolutely ridiculous.” Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the court’s involvement may compromise the mediation process when it does take place. “The spirit of mediation is to try to find the common ground for all parties,” he said.
“If you have the parties suing each other or going to court, you can leave it to the imagination to think about how that will affect the mediation process. “It takes all three parties to dance… otherwise there is no agreement.”
Stagg said the earliest available court date is Feb. 10. He said the Palin Foundation is confident about its defence strategy but he could not say what it entails. Rose said she hopes mediation will be well under way by the time RSU and Palin face off in court.
“We have every belief that mediation will happen before the court ruling.”