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MacHall dispute update: What is a mediation anyways?

By Lianelle Barraza, February 9 2016 —

bitter public battle between the Students’ Union and the University of Calgary over the ownership and operation of MacHall almost ended in court last semester. The two sides agreed to mediation on Dec. 3, 2015, hours before courts were set to rule on an injunction that would allow the SU to retain control of MacHall. That mediation is currently underway, but the university and the SU agreed not to speak publicly for the duration of the mediation period, which ends on Feb. 26.

The SU will continue operating MacHall until an agreement is reached or the mediation period ends.

Calgary lawyer and U of C alumnus Peter Sartore said that the process of mediation involves the parties setting up a framework to resolve a dispute. Agreements made in mediation, however, are not binding.

“The goal of mediation is to resolve differences or disputes between parties,” Sartore said. “Consequently, the results from a mediation are varied as they are not binding or require an agreement at the end.”

Sartore said that mediation does not always result in a resolution between the parties, but that mediation is a move by both parties to resolve the conflict and find a suitable agreement.

Second-year biological sciences student Agnes Visan has mixed feelings about the mediation. She said her biggest concern is the potential restrictions that may be imposed on students, like fees for the services provided in MacHall.

“I frequently use the resources offered in MacHall, and the most important thing is accurate representation and fair consideration of students’ needs,” Visan said. “Regardless of the outcome, I think that both parties could offer different but fair representation of the student body.”

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