Ryerson Students' Union wins a round in court against university

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Kerr Hall clock tower at Ryerson. Image: Hoice/Wikipedia

People who haven't been to university in a very long time might think of a student union as a club on campus.

The reality is that most student unions in Canadian universities are sizeable employers. The student unions at larger universities employ a few hundred people, and not just students. Full-time people rely on their jobs with the students union to pay their mortgates and feed their families. They also administer dental and health plans, have seats on the governing bodies of the university and work to protect students' rights on campus. If that conforms to the definition of a "club," it's a really big one.

Student unions are independent corporations, with complex agreements in place with the university administration to operate on campus and receive student fees. Most of the time, the relationship is straightforward. But not always.

Ryerson University and the Ryerson Students' Union have had a fractured relationship for a couple of years, stemming from allegations of mismanagement of funds by the RSU a couple of years ago. The dispute went to court last week because the university challenged the status of the student union on campus and refused to hand over funds for the union to operate. 

This has been going on for a couple of years now, and the legal deliberations aren't over yet. But there was a favourable decision last week for the Ryerson Students' Union's case.

Nicole Brayiannis is president of the Continuing Education Students' Association at Ryerson, also known as CESAR. CESAR had intervenor status in the case, and Nicole was in the courtroom. She talked to Victoria Fenner. 

Image: Hoice/Wikipedia

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