Humber monitoring coronavirus outbreak

Humber College said it is monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak and its “potential impact on the institution” in a statement posted online last week and updated on Monday.

Toronto Public Health told the college that “there are no particular actions required” at this time.

A special group tasked with keeping the campus community informed on the latest precautions for the virus has been established, made up of stakeholders from various departments and the University of Guelph-Humber.

Humber points students, staff and faculty to the Ontario Ministry of Health website’s dedicated webpage for updates.

The college’s announcement also asked that those on campus “wash their hands as frequently as possible” due to it being the winter flu season.

As of Tuesday morning in Ontario, there is one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, one “presumptive” case and 11 cases under investigation.

RSU files legal claim against Ryerson University

STORY FROM THE EYEOPENER

(CUP) — The Ryerson Students’ Union announced on Tuesday that they have filed a legal claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Ryerson University.

This comes after the university announced that they have terminated their 34-year-old 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU on Jan. 24, meaning they no longer recognize the RSU as the official student union. 

In a press conference on Tuesday morning, RSU president Vanessa Henry said that they are “asking the court to require the university to comply with their contractual obligation which includes: recognizing the RSU as elected student representation and remit all student fees to the RSU.”

“The renegotiation process was difficult. We were willing to make concessions but not at the risk of jeopardizing our autonomy and ability to effectively advocate for students,” said Henry. 

Henry also said that the RSU was “in fact, hours away” from sending a new draft of their agreement when they received notice from the university of their termination. 

She added that since the release of Ryerson’s statement, the university has refused to allow the RSU’s academic coordinator to represent student misconduct and has dismissed the RSU’s senate representative from attending tonight’s meeting. 

“We are no longer just defending the RSU, we are setting precedent for student voices throughout Ontario and across Canada. The administration has tried to silence students. We will not be silenced,” said Henry. 

“We as the RSU will not let over 50 years of history to be destroyed. The university has denied our request to release funds and has advised us that they will no longer be returning to the renegotiating table.” 

Henry added that the RSU will host a blackout demonstration on Thursday. Student services, including the Equity Service Centres will be closed.

“Students will witness the impact of Ryerson University’s decision to not recognize the Ryerson Students’ Union and the important work we do on campus,” Henry said.

“We’re deeply disappointed that we have to take this action. However, over the past year the RSU has had to deplete its resources so that it could continue to provide essential services to students,” said Henry.

Story syndicated from The Eyeopener via the Canadian University Press by Madi Wong.

Nominations open for 2020 IGNITE elections

IGNITE on Tuesday posted details and nomination packages for its 2020 elections on social media, setting up its first ever election without executive positions.

There are 10 positions open for students to run for, all on the Board of Directors.

There are four positions open at North Campus, three seats at Lakeshore, two open at Guelph-Humber and a sole position available at Orangeville.

All nomination packages are due by Feb. 14 and can be filled out on the elections webpage.

1st possible case of coronavirus in Canada hits Toronto

Provincial health officials announced Canada’s first “presumptive” confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Saturday with a male patient in Toronto.

“We’re pretty well 95 per cent sure” that the patient has the virus, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams during a press conference. Authorities will give a new update if the patient upgrades to a confirmed case of the virus.

Williams was flanked by provincial officials, including Health Minister Christine Elliott.

The 50-year-old patient had returned back on a plane from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated from before being admitted to hospital feeling “quite ill”, an official said.

The patient is being treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and is in stable condition.

“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate,” Mayor John Tory said in a separate statement.

The Canadian case is just the latest of several confirmations that have sprung up around the world over the last week.

The province has set up an information webpage that will have daily updates.

In defiance, RSU plans to continue on despite university cut off

The Ryerson Students’ Union said late on Friday that it would continue on and encouraged student support despite Ryerson University saying that it would no longer recognize the organization as the official student government. 

The university said that it would cut off the RSU because the student union did not fulfill all three requirements set out by Ryerson last January in the aftermath of an incident involving the misuse of student union money.

The RSU said the termination of a 34-year-old agreement between Ryerson and the student union “undermines the authority and democratic rights of students”, adding that it “does not accept this termination as valid under the agreement.”

The student government said in a statement it anticipates talking to students at an upcoming general meeting on Feb. 3 and encourages students to get involved in upcoming yearly elections.

The RSU is a separate entity from the university, with its own Board of Directors elected from among the students on a yearly basis and corporate structure.

In January 2019, The Eyeopener unveiled alleged financial mismanagement to the amount of $250,000 by former RSU executives that took place over an eight-month period that started in May 2018.

The questionable spending included bills from LCBO locations, a shisha lounge and Casino Rama, The Eyeopener reported. It led to the impeachment of former president Ram Ganesh.

Ganesh’s successor announced in March 2019 that PricewaterhouseCoopers would tackle a full forensic audit of the expenses. It was recently completed and the students’ union earlier this week filed a report with Toronto Police.

In its statement earlier on Friday, Ryerson University said that it had “tried, in good faith, to negotiate an agreement that ensures that a model of good governance and accountability forms the basis for a partnership that puts the student experience first.”

“Despite the university’s best efforts to be an accommodating and collaborative partner, the RSU has failed to meet the conditions set out in January 2019,” Vice Provost, Students Jen McMillen said.

The university made the decision last year to withhold the ancillary fees collected from students instead of transferring them to the RSU unless three conditions were met: a forensic audit was carried out, the audit was shared with Ryerson and a new operating agreement was negotiated.

Ryerson claims the forensic audit the RSU just completed was not shared with the administration. A new deal to replace the now-cancelled 1986 Operating Agreement has not been worked out.

Despite not fulfilling all of the requirements set out by Ryerson, the RSU insisted it “has always been willing to engage with the [u]niversity, but refuses to make concessions to the [u]niversity that will jeopardize students.”

Decision undermines ‘democratic rights’: CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students’ provincial division said Ryerson University’s decision “undermines the democratic rights of students and student organizations that represent them”.

In a more formal statement released on Friday evening, CFS argued that autonomy was key for a student union to “effectively represent their membership”.

“Internal challenges are best addressed through the democratic structures that exist within students’ unions because they are the processes agreed upon by the union’s membership,” the organization said.

They added that the RSU has demonstrated it took the allegations of financial mismanagement “seriously” and had taken several actions to address the problems.

The statement did not mention the university’s statement that the student union did not follow through the three demands set out by the administration.

The CFS went on to argue that there are mechanisms in place internally so that the greater student body can hold student organizations accountable, explaining that students are empowered by elections, general meeting and referendum to solve issues that arise.

“Ryerson University’s move to terminate their agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union is a paternalistic overreach that undermines these democratic mechanisms,” the press release says.

Exclusive: Guelph-Humber will not be moving as strategic plan is developed

The University of Guelph told The Avro Post on Friday that there are no plans to physically relocate the University of Guelph-Humber “at this time” amid an ongoing process to develop a new strategic plan expected to be completed by the spring.

After a report revealed that last year that Guelph-Humber’s sole building at Humber College’s North Campus was over capacity and there were unverified rumours that the university would be moved, questions arose over its future.

Guelph-Humber was established in 2002 through a partnership between the University of Guelph and Humber College.

Officials pointed to a new webpage dedicated to bringing together all resources to do with the partnership between Guelph and Humber including an operational review undertaken during the fall of 2017.

There has not been a new strategic plan since the governing framework of Guelph-Humber was written in 1999 to establish the university and so a year-long process was launched last May to make a new plan, according to a press release from the presidents of Guelph and Humber.

Guelph-Humber graduates receive a bachelor’s degree from Guelph and a college diploma from Humber. Guelph-Humber students have access to many of the supports provided by Humber and are also members of the IGNITE student union.

Ryerson University cuts ties with RSU

In a dramatic move on Friday, Ryerson University said it no longer recognized the Ryerson Students’ Union as “the official student government” after it failed to meet conditions set out by the university following a credit card scandal uncovered last January.

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“The university has lost confidence in the RSU’s ability to represent students with good governance and to supply the services that students pay for,” Vice Provost Jen McMillen said in a statement, adding the administration has terminated its 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU.

The RSU is a separate entity from the university, with its own Board of Directors elected from among the students on a yearly basis.

The Canadian Federation of Students Ontario called the termination as an “attack on student democracy”.

The development comes just days after the RSU asked Toronto Police to investigate alleged financial mismanagement by its former executives after completing a forensic audit.

The scandal was first unveiled a year ago, when an RSU credit card bill with approximately $250,000 in unusual spending was revealed by The Eyeopener.

At this time, the university said it would no longer pass along fees students paid to the RSU until three conditions were met. The university asked for a forensic audit that would be shared with its administration and a new operating budget negotiated between the RSU and Ryerson.

“Despite the university’s best efforts to be an accommodating and collaborative partner, the RSU has failed to meet the conditions set out in January 2019,” McMillen said.

The vice provost said the university was further concerned by the recent impeachments and resignations by student leadership over the past two months, though they are unrelated to the credit card affair.

The recent turnovers have largely been due to executive failures to work full 40-hour weeks and for alleged harassment, according to reports from The Eyeopener.

Since Dec. 10, four out of six executives that were on the Refresh slate have left office with the vice-president equityvice-president marketing and vice-president education resigning and the vice-president operations being impeached.

Vice President of Operations James Fotak told The Eyeopener that the RSU has “no comment right now.” The Avro Post has reached out for comment from President Vanessa Henry.

Decision undermines ‘democratic rights’: CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students’ provincial division said Ryerson University’s decision “undermines the democratic rights of students and student organizations that represent them”.

In a more formal statement released on Friday evening, CFS argued that autonomy was key for a student union to “effectively represent their membership”.

“Internal challenges are best addressed through the democratic structures that exist within students’ unions because they are the processes agreed upon by the union’s membership,” the organization said.

They added that the RSU has demonstrated it took the allegations of financial mismanagement “seriously” and had taken several actions to address the problems.

The statement did not mention the university’s statement that the student union did not follow through the three demands set out by the administration.

The CFS went on to argue that there are mechanisms in place internally so that the greater student body can hold student organizations accountable, explaining that students are empowered by elections, general meeting and referendum to solve issues that arise.

“Ryerson University’s move to terminate their agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union is a paternalistic overreach that undermines these democratic mechanisms,” the press release says.

With files from The Eyeopener/Canadian University Press.

French-language university supported by feds, province

STORY VIA THE FULCRUM

(CUP) — The provincial and federal governments announced Wednesday that they reached an agreement to jointly fund a French-language university in Toronto.

Both levels of government will invest a total of $126 million toward the project over a period of eight years. The federal government will invest $63 million over five years which will be matched by the provincial government. 

This morning announcement follows the September 2019 memorandum of understanding which saw both levels of government agree on the need for a francophone university in Toronto.

“The Université de l’Ontario français is an important and long awaited-for project, critical to future generations of Franco-Ontarians,” said Ontario Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney in a press release. 

The Ford government had previously announced plans to scrap the project in November 2018. At the time, Ford said the project was an irresponsible promise made by the former Liberal government days before the 2018 election.

The former Liberal government had promised and began planning for a francophone university to open in Toronto all the way back in 2017.

“We are delighted to achieve this historic milestone and to welcome, as planned, the first cohorts in the fall 2021,” said Dyane Adam, chair of the board of governors for Université de l’Ontario français, in the press release.

It is still unclear where the university will be located in Toronto. The original project planned on sharing offices and classrooms with College Boreal’s Toronto campus but nothing has been confirmed as of now.  

Francophones delighted 

Many influential French-Canadian figures and organizations took to Twitter on Wednesday to show their enthusiasm for the project. 

“We celebrate the signature of the Canada-Ontario agreement with @universiteON!@uOttawa will continue to work with you and thanks Melanie Joly, Caroline Mulroneyand Ross Romano for continuing to develop post-secondary education in French!” tweeted University of Ottawa president Jacques Frémont.

“This is a historic day for Franco-Ontarians,” tweeted federal Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly. ”A project that unites Francophones from all parts of our country and an unprecedented measure that will give thousands of Canadians the opportunity to pursue their education in French in Ontario.”

A new era for IGNITE

With the passing of several bylaw amendments on Wednesday at a Special Meeting of the Members, IGNITE on Thursday strides into a new era with five months of decision-making behind it.

Elections will start in a matter of weeks and, for the first time in its history, the student union will not be electing executives. There will only be candidates for the Board, which sits at the top of IGNITE. 

There will be open seats at Humber College’s North, Lakeshore and Orangeville Campuses as well as at the University of Guelph-Humber. This next generation of directors will preside over a very different student union then the one the current term was handed last April.

In some ways, there will be more certainty.

They will enter a student union that has been reset with a new, more corporate direction moving forward through a new base rule: By-law No. 1 — which resets the rules for IGNITE with the bylaw amendments that students passed at the Special Meeting of the Members, combined with the skeleton of the previous Constitution.

That is not to say there will not be challenges. Chief among them will be the ongoing legal struggle over the Student Choice Initiative. Currently, the province is looking to appeal the decision made by the Ontario Divisional Court to strike down the initiative.

Several student unions, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, have cancelled opt-out portals, ending its optional student fees and returning to the previous status quo of 100 per cent mandatory fees.

IGNITE reiterated its position on Wednesday that it would not end optional student fees while the SCI was in essential legal limbo.

If the Ford administration is successful in repealing the court ruling, student union officials said they would not want a scenario where they would have to flip-flop between mandatory and optional fees.

Directors will also have to manage hiring and overseeing the new student engagement coordinators, who will replace the current executive model.

They will be hired staffers within the student union and sit below the executive director and alongside part-time staff, according to graphics released by IGNITE.

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