Carleton U student unions cry foul over cash

SEE VIDEO:  http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2010/11/11/16098351.html

The two biggest student unions at Carleton University are taking the school’s administration to court for holding $7 million in student fees.

“It’s really treating us like children where we have to say OK mommy, daddy, I really need this money for this month. Can you please give it to me?,” said Kimalee Phillip, president of the Graduate Students’ Association.

The unions’ presidents say the school’s board of governors recently voted to keep their money, which is collected from 26,000 students when they pay tuition.

“We need these fees to run our businesses,” said Alex Sirois, president of the Carleton University Students’ Association.

Jason MacDonald, the university’s director of communications, said despite numerous requests the unions haven’t provided their audited financial statements.

After the Nov. 1 deadline for a new agreement came and went, the university dispersed the money needed to fund the student health and dental plan, MacDonald said, leaving about $3 million.

The unions have an operating budget of about $2 million, used to run several businesses on campus that employ about 100 students.

“It has the potential to affect our ability to pay my staff as well for me to get product from suppliers,” said Rooster’s Cafe manager Ron Barrette.

Phillip says the unions are now being given allowances each month.

“What we see happening is an attempt to control the student unions and control student voices on campus,” she said.

The university said they’re being reasonable, given the amount of money involved.

“We’ve invited CUSA and GSA to let us know what kind of fees or funds were required for them to continue their operations as organizations or student associations. And we would be happy to provide those fees to them as well,” said MacDonald.

If no compromise is reached, a judge will make a decision next January.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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