By Madi Wong
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has announced that they have filed a legal claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Ryerson University as of Jan. 28.
In a statement published by the RSU on Tuesday evening, their claim calls for $2,700,000 in damages for breach of contract, the release of the student fees withheld by the university, $100,000 in punitive damages and a declaration that Ryerson is in breach of its agreement with the RSU.
The statement also said that the claim includes the RSU’s legal costs throughout the process.
This comes after the university announced that they have terminated their 34-year-old 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU on Jan. 24, meaning they no longer recognize the RSU as the official student union.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, RSU president Vanessa Henry said that they are “asking the court to require the university to comply with their contractual obligation which includes: recognizing the RSU as elected student representation and remit all student fees to the RSU.”
“The renegotiation process was difficult. We were willing to make concessions but not at the risk of jeopardizing our autonomy and ability to effectively advocate for students,” said Henry.
Henry also said that the RSU was “in fact, hours away” from sending a new draft of their agreement when they received notice from the university of their termination.
She added that since the release of Ryerson’s statement, the university has refused to allow the RSU’s academic coordinator to represent student misconduct and has dismissed the RSU’s senate representative from attending tonight’s meeting.
“We are no longer just defending the RSU, we are setting precedent for student voices throughout Ontario and across Canada. The administration has tried to silence students. We will not be silenced,” said Henry.
“We as the RSU will not let over 50 years of history to be destroyed. The university has denied our request to release funds and has advised us that they will no longer be returning to the renegotiating table.”
Henry added that the RSU will host a blackout demonstration on Thursday. Student services, including the Equity Service Centres will be closed.
“Students will witness the impact of Ryerson University’s decision to not recognize the Ryerson Students’ Union and the important work we do on campus,” Henry said.
“We’re deeply disappointed that we have to take this action. However, over the past year the RSU has had to deplete its resources so that it could continue to provide essential services to students,” said Henry.
With files from Alexandra Holyk
More to come.