By Sarah Boesveld
Ryerson Centre, the only group that hasn’t signed the Student Campus Centre operating agreement, is asking the parties involved to approve an an addendum that would recognize the group’s $500,000 donation. It also wants all future financial contributions officially recorded and preserved, and its office space on the third floor of Oakham House guaranteed.
The group had so far delayed signing because it said its interests were being ignored.
In response, the university moved to speed up the process by sending an ultimatum to Ryerson Centre.
In an e-mail obtained by the Eyeopener, vice-president administration and finance, Linda Grayson said the group had 10 working days to sign the agreement or have its half-a-million dollar financial contribution returned to them.
The ultimatum was set in mid-February and stated “the opportunity to negotiate a solution is no longer an option,” and that “further delays are not in the interest of Ryerson students.”
As the deadline neared last Friday, Ryerson Centre held a meeting to approve a list of requests — financial recognition and guaranteed office space — to be added to the contract.
Ryerson Centre general manager, Greg Quinn, hopes all parties will accept the addendum. “None of the content is contentious,” he said. “I don’t expect that any stakeholder will have an issue with any of our requests.”
Julia Hanigsberg, who represented the university throughout the two-year negotiation process, said administration received the requests and is waiting to connect with all other parties to decide whether they will be approved.
“Everyone is very eager to land this finally,” she said, adding that the addendum has to be signed by all five parties involved in order to be considered legal.
The parties include the Palin Foundation, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the Continuing Education Students at Ryerson, Ryerson University and Ryerson Centre.
All must sign before the operating agreement can be applied. RSU president and acting chair of the Palin Foundation, Muhammad Ali Jabbar, supports the university’s push for Ryerson Centre to sign.
“It was definitely needed,” he said. “(We) can’t handle any more delaying.” Quinn said members of Ryerson Centre are also frustrated by the delay, but feel it is necessary to ensure Ryerson Centre’s interests are included.
Quinn said the corporation’s main goal was always to build a facility just for students, and they will likely sign even if the addendum is rejected.
“The operating agreement has set us back two years in work we wanted to do,” Quinn said, adding that the signing will allow them to move on.
Ryerson Centre’s problems with the operating agreement started after Rebecca Rose became RSU president in 2004/2005 and called for renegotiations to the original agreement.
Quinn said RSU turned a previously cooperative climate into a battle of “us against them.” “Their ideology steamrolled over everyone else’s in the community,” he said.
Ryerson Centre has been the lone dissenter to the Operating Agreement for most of the renegotiating period, Quinn said. Early last year, they participated in mediation through the school, which Quinn said “didn’t work.”
It has been a futile tug-of-war ever since, he said. Ryerson Centre is comprised of students, staff, faculty and alumni that donates money to various Ryerson projects including the building of the Rogers Communications Centre.