MacHall operating agreement and ownership dispute


In the process of negotiating the Licence of Occupation, Operation, and Management Agreement (LOOMA), the SU discovered we were originally co-owners of the student centre. The SU paid 55% of the original construction costs of the building and was promised a 55% ownership stake in the building by the University of Calgary.

The university’s current administration refuses to acknowledge students’ ownership and has attempted to treat the SU as a tenant in MacHall. We’ve been negotiating for over two years and have been unable to reach a mutual understanding of our interest in the building.

We’ve been entrusted with the responsibility to be stewards of well over $20 million in investments that students have made over the past 61 years. This is a complicated negotiation that gets to the heart of what value students’ investments contribute to our campus.

In response to the university’s open letter published on Sept. 22, 2015, the SU points out that many elements of Dr. Marshall’s letter and recent public comments cast serious doubt on her stated goal of working together to improve the student experience. The SU’s response can be found here where the SU continues to request from the university any evidence to counter students’ ownership claim or any documentation showing that the University of Calgary did not act as a trustee of student money in exchange for a student ownership percentage of the building.

As stated in a letter to the university on Oct. 14, 2015, we are also extremely disappointed by the university’s continued threats to take over the SU’s revenue generated in MacHall which the SU invests in programs and services to support students. The university does not have any right to the revenues generated by the SU, or decisions over SU space. These threats are disrespectful to students. In Dr. Marshall’s Oct. 8 letter, she refuses to engage in negotiations about students’ ownership in MacHall.

After receiving a final public letter on Oct. 19, 2015 from board chair Bonnie DuPont which reiterated that the university is unwilling to negotiate over the legal ownership of MacHall, the SU served their statement of claim to the university on Oct. 21, 2015. This will now compel the university to provide their evidence to support their claim that they are the sole owners of MacHall.  The university filed their statement of defence on Nov. 10, and on Nov. 18 the SU filed their formal reply to that statement of defence.

To preserve students’ rights in MacHall, the SU has filed an injunction to prevent the university from assuming the management, operations, and revenues from MacHall on Dec. 9 (the termination date of the operating agreement chosen by the university administration). The injunction will be heard before the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta on Friday Dec. 4, 2015.

The University of Calgary and the Students’ Union agreed on Dec.3, 2015 to enter mediation with regards to ownership and an agreement to maintain the Students’ Union’s management of Mac Hall.  This demonstrates the commitment by both parties to come to a fair and equitable agreement that recognizes the investment of both parties and ensures Mac Hall will remain the focal point of student activity, and an important community gathering space for the entire campus, at the University of Calgary for generations to come.

A mutually acceptable mediator will be selected by Jan. 8, 2016. Both parties have agreed that since they are entering mediation they will not speak publicly about the mediation or the subject matter of the mediation until the end of the mediation period of Feb. 26, 2016 (subject to extension or earlier termination by agreement of the Parties). However, the SU will provide a statement to its Students’ Legislative Council at the next meeting.

All legal proceedings will be put on hold during the mediation period, and the SU will continue to operate and manage Mac Hall under the terms of the current License of Occupation, Operating and Management Agreement.

To read more about how the ownership dispute could impact students, click here.

To read more about the ownership dispute in the news, click here.

For more detailed information, please see the following summary documents:


To view the SU’s Statement of Claim, please see the following document:


60 Years  of Student Investment?

More than 60 years ago, our students began to set money aside to invest in our student centre. Beginning in the academic year of 1953/54, the Students’ Union began to collect a building fee, with the goal of constructing a students’ union building. Eventually, in 1969, undergraduate students paid 55% of the cost of constructing the original MacEwan Hall. Over the years, the Students’ Union (SU) and students continued to make substantial contributions to each of the major construction phases and redevelopment projects in MacHall.

Consultation Results

MacHall, the SU’s Home

After more than 40 years as the building managers of the student centre, the SU now runs many excellent programs, events, businesses, and services all with the goal of improving the university experience for University of Calgary undergrads. Many of the original investments in spaces throughout the student centre also laid the foundation for successful businesses that help keep student fees low.

However, students are often unaware that some of their favourite events, programs, services and businesses are actually run by the SU and that a history of investments made by students who came before them help make these initiatives possible.  Here are a few examples, but you can look for more throughout MacHall:

  • SU Q Centre
  • SU Campus Food Bank
  • SU Clubs
  • SU Volunteer Services
  • Info Centre/Lost & Found
  • Bound & Copied
  • The Den

That’s why the SU is running the “60 Years of Student Investment” campaign, to help students understand that many of the memorable experiences for undergraduates outside the classroom are the result of the stewardship and investments made by our alumni.

Using banners hung in large, open, high-traffic spaces throughout the facility, the goal is to draw attention to the history of MacHall and the SU, and to invite current University of Calgary students to take pride in it. The campaign also intends to support and provoke a positive, ongoing public conversation about the future of the building.