By Patrick Szpak
Associate News Editor
Who’s house? Ryerson Student Union’s house.
The RSU has achieved a suprisingly favourable contract for student campus centres in Canada, if the terms of the yet-to-be-signed operating agreement obtained by The Eyeopener remain unchanged.
The operating agreement, which has yet to be made public, lays out the complete terms of operations for the Student Campus Centre (SCC), from governance and insurance to day-to-day cleaning.
The agreement states that the RSU and the Continuing Education Students Association of Ryerson (CESAR) be granted eight out of the 11 voting positions on the centre’s board of directors, a majority greater than two thirds. In addition, the RSU and CESAR will also have a majority on the centre’s management committee.
In practical terms, this means elected student representatives will control almost all facets of the centre’s operation, from who gets to use the office space, fundraising at the Ram in the Rye to hiring and firing. Once signed, the agreement will not go under review and president Sheldon Levy has said he hopes the contract “gets on the shelf and never has to be looked at.”
RSU President Muhammad Ali Jabbar is happy with the agreement.
“This is the best one,” Jabbar said when asked how the operating agreement stacks up with other agreements at other universities. “Take a look at York University, their student centre is run by the university; student groups don’t get priority there.”
Jabbar thinks that the agreement is more than fair. “They paid for this building, why shouldn’t they get to run it,” Jabbar said. “This is their home on campus.”
Penny Beames, chairperson for the University of Victoria’s student union, says typically in Canada, student space is leased from and controlled by university administration.
“Most of the student centres I’ve seen are run by the universities,” Beames said. “Usually it is only with the newly built student centres that students get more representation.
Beames said that usually things work under this arrangement, but pointed to troubles at Carleton University in Ottawa, when administration evicted students from their space in university buildings with the intent of building a new structure without student space.
The operating agreement is still awaiting the signiture of the Ryerson Centre.