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Ryerson ordered to recognize RSU as official student union

A judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared on Monday that Ryerson University has to treat the RSU as the official student union.
Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC

A judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared on Monday that Ryerson University has to treat the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) as the official student union and release withheld student fees.

The RSU said in a Facebook post that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice “affirmed [the] RSU as the official student government, following a 70-year legacy as the democratic voice of students on campus.”

The RSU appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday. They were hoping to have an injunction implemented against Ryerson. An injunction would require Ryerson to temporarily recognize the RSU as the official student union.

The injunction will be in effect until the lawsuit between Ryerson and the RSU is resolved at a civil trial.

Ryerson began withholding student fees after the Eyeopener reported in January 2019 that there was alleged financial mismanagement within the RSU.

Ryerson terminated their 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU on Jan. 24, 2020. The RSU was no longer recognized as the official student government representing Ryerson students.

This termination came after concerns from Ryerson over questions about former RSU president Ram Ganesh allegedly engaged in financial mismanagement and the turnover of executives from the 2019-2020 executive team.

President Vanessa Henry announced at a press conference on Jan. 28 that the student union filed a legal claim against Ryerson for terminating their 1986 Operating Agreement.

Their legal claim said that they were seeking $2.7 million in damages for breach of contract, the release of student fees withheld by Ryerson, $100,000 in punitive damages, a declaration acknowledging the university is in breach with their operating agreement with the student union, and their legal fees.

Alexi Wood, the lead lawyer for the RSU, said in the court hearing on Friday that the student union would face “irreparable damage” if Ryerson continues to not recognize it as the official student union.

Justice Markus Koehnen said in his decision that it was critical for the RSU to be recognized as the official student union.

“If Ryerson does not transfer to the RSU the funds that [it] has collected on the RSU’s behalf, it is undisputed the RSU will have to shut down in little over one month from now…that will result in the termination of 79 employees, a lack of funding to the many student organizations the RSU supports, and the shutdown of many student services,” said Koehnen in his decision.

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