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Court date set to block MacHall takeover
Calgary, April 25, 2016 – A court date has been set to hear the Students’ Union’s injunction application to prevent the University of Calgary from taking over the management of MacEwan Hall, better known as MacHall , the popular student centre operated by the Students’ Union (SU).
After repeated and continuing threats to the SU by the university’s current administration to assume management and operational responsibilities for MacHall and confiscate the revenues from the facility, the injunction hearing scheduled for May 5, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. is the SU’s latest step to preserve students’ rights in MacHall.
Mediation between the university and the SU broke down on April 15, 2016, when university leadership continued to ignore documented facts confirming student co-ownership of the building.
“I’m troubled that an institution of higher learning continues to refuse to acknowledge the truth in this situation. It’s unfortunate that we are revealing a court date in the same week the university is launching the celebrations marking its 50th anniversary,” said Levi Nilson, the president of the 73rd Students’ Legislative Council.
The SU has presented detailed, documented evidence to the university proving undergraduate students are the rightful 55 percent co-owners of MacHall.
Despite repeated requests by the SU, administration has failed to produce any definitive proof whatsoever for their claim that students are not co-owners of the building, or that undergraduate students at any point since 1969 ever surrendered these ownership rights.
“We are disappointed it has come to this,” said Nilson. “University administration is still attempting to terminate the operating agreement four years before the end of its term. We’re seeking an injunction to stop that from happening.”
The SU has successfully managed MacHall for more than 40 years, but received a letter without warning on Sept. 23, 2014, from the university’s administration unilaterally terminating the agreement effective Dec. 9, 2015. This deadline was extended when both sides entered mediation on December 3, 2015 and is now set for May 6, 2016 – exactly 21 days after mediation broke down on April 15.
“If the university assumes control of the management of MacHall and the SU’s revenues generated by the management of MacHall, we know students will feel the negative impacts to important SU services, programs, and advocacy.”
The SU is, and always has been, prepared to resume negotiations with respect to the building once students’ ownership rights have been properly recognized and acknowledged by university leadership. The offer is open to the administration or to the university’s Board of Governors should either group of decision makers choose to accept it.
“As new public board members are appointed to the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors by the province over the coming months, we hope each of them takes the opportunity to review the facts on MacHall. We also hope these new board members will act in the best interests of its stakeholders, including current undergraduate students and the tens of thousands of alumni who paid for MacHall, beginning in 1953 when the first building fee was collected by the SU to construct a student centre,” Nilson said. “A university should never be taking on their students like this.”
For more information:
The University of Calgary Students’ Union