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University plans to seize control of MacHall from Students’ Union

By Fabian Mayer, November 17 2015 —

The University of Calgary plans to take over the operation of MacHall from its Students’ Union when the operating agreement between the two parties is terminated on Dec. 9.

Attempts to negotiate a new operating agreement stalled this year after disagreements over who owns the building. The dispute was made public in September and the SU is now suing the university in an attempt to gain legal ownership of MacHall.

SU president Levi Nilson said they received a letter from administration last week outlining the university’s intentions.

“It was a quick letter saying they would be assuming all revenue in the building — which I’ve said before I think is inappropriate,” Nilson said.

Vice-president operations and finance Sarah Pousette announced Tuesday that the SU plans to file an injunction to continue operating the building under the current agreement until the lawsuit is resolved.

The SU relies heavily on the revenue obtained by renting out space in MacHall to provide student services.

Nilson said losing that revenue would have a huge impact on the organization, and that he doesn’t understand the university’s motivations.

“It would be devastating to the SU. It would essentially destroy the SU for no reason that we can see other than they want to,” Nilson said.

The university has said it will work with the SU to support student programs, activities and services. University administration declined interview requests but provided the following statement.

“Planning for the management and operation of MacHall is currently underway, and information will be shared with the campus community once that plan is finalized.”

Nilson said the impact of losing revenue from MacHall would be “pretty immediate.” However, he remains confident pursuing legal action was the right decision.

“Our other option was to let the university take over the building and treat us like tenants,” Nilson said. “Either way, we were not in a great spot. But I think with how strong our case is this was definitely the best direction that we could have went.”

Negotiations on an operating agreement to replace the current 1999 deal began nearly three years ago. The agreement divides rights and responsibilities within the building between the SU and the university. Administration rescinded its offer to renew the agreement after the SU served them with a lawsuit.

The university filed its statement of defence on Nov. 10. It argues that the university owns MacHall and rejects the allegations made by the SU in its statement of claim.

Nilson wasn’t surprised by any of the arguments made in the statement of defence, but still believes the SU’s case is strong.

“We were confident going in. We were confident when we filed the statement of claim. We were confident when we served them, and we are confident now that the statement of defence has been filed.”

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