BY AGATA ZIEBA
The Ryerson Student’s Union (RSU) offers free legal advice but other universities take the services further.
“I don’t formally represent students or make attendances, I’d be everywhere,” said William Reid, the lawyer who provides legal services to students through the RSU. “It’d be a whole other level of service and a lot more money for students.”
But the University of Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services provides all their students with legal advice and representation in court, with over 100 lawyers working at the firm.
“We get some funding from different clubs and unions, but most of it comes from Legal Aid Ontario. Students don’t pay much, probably a few dollars per student,” said Martha, an administrator at U of T’s Downtown Legal Services who refused to give her last name.
Ryerson’s legal aid costs the student body $30,000 per year. It provides legal advice on criminal law, tenant, debt and immigration issues, as well as help with court paper work and legalities.
Whether the RSU’s legal advice is known around campus is also in question.
“I’m available to the student body, but awareness of all RSU services aren’t made that knowledgeable despite our best attempts,” said Reid, who provides the same services to York University, George Brown and Mohawk College.
Toby Whitfield, RSU vice-president finance and services, said the resource is well used but there could be more student awareness.
“We have some posters and it’s in the service information of the handbook, but we could definitely get the message out better,” said Whitfield.
Already in his fourth year at Ryerson, Constantina Kalsatos never knew about the legal resources.
“I think a lot more students would get use out of it if it was more advertised,” said Kalsatos.