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Fabian Mayer

Debate over MacHall ownership continues

By Fabian Mayer, October 6 2015 —

The dispute between the Students’ Union and university administration continued last week when the SU published a strongly worded e-mail to university administration regarding negotiations on who owns and operates MacHall.

The e-mail was in response to an open letter from administration to the SU on Sept. 22. In that letter, the university stated its intention for a negotiated solution, disputed the SU’s case for ownership of MacHall and chided the SU for “its threat of legal action.”

“While I appreciate your stated goal of working together to improve the student experience, many elements of your letter and recent public comments cast serious doubt over this intention,” begins the SU’s latest e-mail response.

The SU publicized the MacHall ownership dispute in mid-September and little progress has been made since. Negotiations on a new operating agreement started nearly three years ago. The deadline to reach a deal remains Dec. 9, though the university has offered an extension under certain conditions.

“We’re reasserting our ownership and saying it needs to be formally recognized by the university,” said SU president Levi Nilson.

Nilson claims he repeatedly asked the university for any evidence casting doubt on the SU’s claim to ownership.

“We think we’re supported by the facts, so why would we change [our stance]” Nilson said.

The university points to the latest building agreement signed in 1999, which states that they own the building. The SU’s position is that this clause was drafted in error.

Despite the strong words, Nilson said he’s still willing to get back to the negotiating table.

“We still want to, but we needed to address some things within their letter first,” Nilson said.

The e-mail also lays out a number of conditions for any new deal, including formal recognition of the SU as MacHall’s owners.

According to Nilson, the SU hasn’t received any response from administration as of Oct. 6.

The SU filed a statement of claim regarding the dispute with provincial courts on April 28. According to Nilson, this was only to preserve the option of legal action. The SU has yet to serve this claim to the university.

Provost Dru Marshall denied an interview request, claiming the university is still reviewing the e-mail and is not prepared to comment publicly at this time.

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