Update on termination of the agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union
It has been almost two weeks since the university made the very difficult decision to terminate the 1986 operating agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). We have heard from some community members and know that questions remain about how the university came to this decision.
In January 2019, Ryerson was troubled by the allegations of financial impropriety raised against the RSU, but was also hopeful that this matter could be resolved. We were optimistic that, by working together, Ryerson and the RSU could move forward with a student government that demonstrates a commitment to financial accountability, transparency, and the good governance that Ryerson students deserve.
The university met with the RSU in January 2019, at which time the two organizations agreed to a plan to move forward. As a result, the RSU passed a motion that they would conduct a forensic audit of their finances and share the results with the university. The RSU also committed to renegotiating a new operating agreement with the university by March 31, 2019.
To prevent the disruption of important services for students, during the time the university was trying to renegotiate with the RSU and awaited the results of the audit, the university transferred money to Ryerson Radio, Rye Eye Publishing (The Eyeopener), and the insurers for health and dental services. It was important to the university to ensure continued operation of as many resources and services as possible.
In mid-March 2019, the RSU had still not identified a negotiating team, so the university extended the deadline to negotiate a new agreement to April 30, 2019. On April 29, 2019 the RSU committed to provide feedback on the draft agreement by May 3, 2019, but they failed to do so. The RSU missed both the April 30, 2019 and May 3, 2019 deadlines.
In mid-May, 2019 the university formally notified the RSU that August 8, 2019 was the final deadline to negotiate a new agreement and that, if a new agreement was not negotiated, Ryerson would terminate the 1986 contract. The RSU committed to providing a new agreement to the university by July 31, 2019 but, once again, missed their deadline.
PDF fileAs this detailed timeline demonstrates, as long as the RSU was engaging with the university, and demonstrating a willingness to find solutions, Ryerson University made every effort to be accommodating. Unfortunately, over the course of nearly a year, the RSU missed every deadline, failed to meet any of the conditions that they agreed to in January 2019, and stopped corresponding with the university on these matters.
In light of the financial impropriety identified last year, and, more recently, the executive turnover, impeachments, and the ongoing Ministry of Labour investigation of the RSU, the university has lost all confidence in the RSU’s ability to represent students with good governance. After a year of continued efforts, which were not reciprocated by the RSU, the university felt it was out of options and terminated the RSU operating agreement.
Now, it is time to ensure that students have the opportunity to decide the structure of their representative government.
Student advocacy and support
There have been concerns expressed about academic advocacy support and that the termination of the RSU operating agreement has impacted student access to the RSU advocate. We know that this has affected five students to date. Every impacted student is having their options explained to them, and we continue to offer direct support.
It is for this reason that the university approached CESAR last week to discuss options for continuing to support Ryerson students in need of academic advocacy. The CESAR and RSU academic advocates have been working together for years to support each other's clients under Policy 60. We extended an offer to provide CESAR with additional resources to increase the number of students the CESAR advocate is able to represent under Policy 60. On the afternoon of February 6, 2020, they informed us that they were unable to accept our proposal as presented.
The university is committed to upholding the principle of fairness for all students involved in academic integrity processes. The university has developed a plan to support students who feel they need academic advocacy and we will provide an update in the coming days.
Forming a new student government
The process to determine the structure of an independent, representative government for full-time undergraduate and all graduate students at Ryerson University is well underway.
In early March 2020, full-time undergraduate and all graduate students will have the opportunity to vote for the structure(s) of their representative government(s).
This week, members of the Student Government Selection Process Committee were announced. This diverse group have all demonstrated a strong commitment to student leadership and have significant experience as student leaders, engaged community members, or as elected student representatives.
Students are encouraged to submit a proposal for the structure of student government. Nomination proposals are being accepted until February 19, 2020 at 5 p.m. EST. If you are submitting a proposal please fill out the google formfollowing nomination form, external link. Details of the nomination criteria are available at www.runextgov.ca, external link. If students have questions they can email the committee at email@example.com.
In the coming days, we will be announcing the Lead Process Officer (LPO) who, along with the Student Government Selection Process Committee, will facilitate the process for students to select a structure of student government.
Our primary responsibility is and always will be to act in the best interests of students. Ryerson University remains firmly committed to working in good faith with a student government that demonstrates a commitment to financial accountability, transparency, good governance, and conducts its affairs in the best interests of the student community.
For more information, including FAQs, timelines, and statements, please visit the Student Government Media Room.