By Kaydi Pyette
The Student Campus Centre (SCC) Operating Agreement has finally been signed after two years of setbacks and false starts. The agreement will allow students more control over the building, speed up the lines at the front desk and make it easier to book rooms.
Ironically, Ryerson Centre, the not-for-profit dissenting voice for much of the two-year process, was the first to sign on Thursday.
The new agreement included a freedom from liability clause should someone sue or should the SCC go bankrupt. Ryerson Centre had asked for this in the addendum they presented to the university last month, after they were issued an ultimatum to sign or get its $500,000 investment back. This clause was missing in the first agreement because Ryerson Centre missed the meeting when it was discussed.
Dominique Blain, VP of Ryerson Centre, said the community corporation refused to sign the Agreement unless they were free from liability.
Director of the Ryerson Centre, Greg Quinn, agreed. “We are on the board of directors of the SCC so we could be held liable under corporate law. The feeling was that, with the structure of the SCC as it is, we really don’t have controlling votes and decisions could be made that put the long-term health of the Ryerson Centre at risk. We wanted to separate ourselves from possible calamity.”
Other parties in the agreement, including Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the Palin Foundation and CESAR, also signed on to be protected from liability.
“We had asked for this to be added in the beginning, but the administration told us it wasn’t covered under the university’s insurance. We thought, well, that’s okay since we’re not here to make bad decisions,” said CESAR president, Jeremy Salter.
After Ryerson Centre was granted the change, called an indemnity, the university checked again with its insurer, and all other parties were then granted the freedom from liability.
Ryerson Centre, which is made up of ex-student union presidents, is just glad to have reached its goal, which has always been to build a student centre.
“It’s significant that’s it done and now the SCC can be used as it was meant to be,” Blain said. “After ten years of trying to get to this point, the actual act of signing the agreement was very anti-climatic. You assume that because there’s so much build up we’re going to come in and sit at a big, mahogany table with our fountain pens and sign gold documents. It’s not like that at all.”
Other parties were also relieved to put the drawn-out battle behind them.
“We’re thrilled it’s done,” said Ryerson general counsel Julia Hanigsberg. “The whole battle was how to make it best for students, and I think that everyone is pleased,” she said.
“It feels really good to have it signed and it’s a load off my shoulders,” said RSU president and Palin Foundation acting chair, Muhammad Ali Jabbar. “This is what I’ve been working on for the last year and it’s really awesome to have it done before I leave.”
Salter felt similarly. “For two reasons it’s absolutely wonderful to be at this point,” he said. “For one, it’s great to put this issue to rest and put it behind us. But it’s also really great that every single thing that we have been asking for since day one is included. It’s a clear cut victory for the student unions at Ryerson.” The first steps in implementing the operating agreement will be to move the board of directors into the SCC and make sure the governance structure fits with the agreement, Hanigsberg said.