The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) filed to intervene in the legal action concerning Ryerson University’s most recent attack on students’ union autonomy.
“Autonomy is central to a students’ union’s ability to effectively represent their membership. Ryerson University has attempted to violate the autonomy and independence of students’ unions through a draconian move to unilaterally terminate the Ryerson Students’ Union Operating Agreement,” said Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.
“This isn’t the first time that Canada’s students have faced this kind of ill-conceived attack. The Federation is intervening to make sure that all students’ unions can continue to operate freely and be accountable to members, not beholden to university administrators,” continued Descalzi.
Ryerson University unilaterally cancelled its agreement to recognize and remit funding to the Ryerson Students’ Union, citing complaints with the actions of past executives. The CFS and CESAR stated that Ryerson University failed to act in good faith in dealing with students and is setting a standard that harms core principles of students’ union autonomy, fair and free elections, and independent student voices on campuses across the country.
“Ryerson University has overstepped in every stage of this process, and they have one goal – defunding the largest democratic students’ union on campus,” said Nicole Brayiannis, President of the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson. “This attack on the RSU harms all students at Ryerson. It’s had an immediate effect on campus life through the cancellation of educational and community events hosted by the Equity Service Centres, as well as leaving advocacy services like academic appeals in the lurch.”
Students’ unions are separate, third-party entities from the university or college where they operate. Students’ unions are responsible for representing students to the university, including taking oppositional opinions, and require the freedom to operate without risk of losing funding and student representation. Students’ unions are governed by either provincial or federal not-for-profit law.
The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson represents over 16,000 part-time and continuing education students at Ryerson University.
The Canadian Federation of Students unites over 500,000 college and university students and more than 60 students’ unions throughout the country including all students at Ryerson University.