By Madi Wong
The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) announced on Monday the union has been given intervention status in the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) legal claim against Ryerson.
“It is our belief that…Ryerson University is not acting in the best interest of students,” said CESAR president Nicole Brayiannis at a press conference Monday morning.
Brayiannis added that it is not CESAR’s intention to defend the actions of the RSU but to instead intervene as an expert of the Ryerson campus and act rationally to empower students and work toward their best interests.
Louis Century, CESAR’s lawyer, said on Monday that the union has received consent from the RSU to intervene but not from Ryerson as of yet. He added that if Ryerson does not consent, there will be a court hearing on Tuesday to determine whether or not CESAR will be allowed to intervene ahead of the RSU’s court date on Friday.
Brayiannis confirmed to The Eyeopener on Tuesday that Ryerson did not consent to CESAR’s intervener status but after the case went to the judge on Tuesday, CESAR was granted intervener status.
Century explained that intervening means that the union is applying to be a part of the court case, not necessarily on the side of the RSU or Ryerson but to represent the interests of their clients at CESAR and the CFS. This includes reminding the court of any important legal principles in context when the court is making their decision.
“At a time where students in Ontario are facing major cuts to OSAP, cuts to university and college structures…Students need autonomous student unions to represent their interests more than ever,” said Sofia Descalzi, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students at CESAR’s press conference.
“By joining the RSU’s legal intervention we are showing students across the country that an attack against one is an attack on all.”
CESAR x Ryerson
On Feb. 6, Ryerson’s vice-provost, students, Jen McMillen mentioned that the university had approached CESAR with an offer via statement posted to Ryerson Today.
The offer was to “provide CESAR with additional resources to increase the number of students the CESAR advocate is able to represent,” but the union turned down Ryerson’s offer on Feb. 6.
The same day, CESAR released a statement to the union’s Facebook in response to McMillen.
According to the union, Ryerson did not reach out to CESAR ahead of their decision to terminate their 1986 Operating Agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
In addition, CESAR alleged that the university “offered money to undermine employees” and extend their services to students under the RSU.
Brayiannis said the union was put in a “very strange position.”
“We basically said, ‘We don’t want your dirty money, we’re not here to take over this part for a few months,'” Brayiannis told The Eyeopener.
McMillen did not comment in time for publication.
What about the RSU’s legal claim?
The RSU announced on Jan. 28 in a press conference that they have filed a legal claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the university.
“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 RSU president Vanessa Henry at the Jan. 28 press conference.
In a statement posted on the same day, the RSU stated 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 the claim includes the RSU’s legal costs throughout the process.
Henry told The Eyeopener that the RSU will be in court March 6—the same day as the results for Ryerson’s new student government are expected to be announced.
According to Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi, the university’s legal counsel and McMillen will be present in court March 6.
Lachemi declined to comment on CESAR filing for intervention in the RSU’s legal claim.