By Fabian Mayer, July 23 2015 —
Negotiations for a new MacHall lease agreement between the university and the Students’ Union are entering their third year. The agreement governs how space is used in the building and who is responsible for operating it.
The previous agreement expired in 2014 but was extended for another year, expiring in December 2015.
SU president Levi Nilson will lead the negotiations for the SU. He said the building is crucial for the SU and that reaching a deal is one of his primary goals this year.
“MacHall is basically what makes the SU able to do what it does. It’s the reason we can keep our student fees so low,” Nilson said.
Nilson has said in the past that he believes the university may be waiting for a weaker SU executive in order to reach a more favourable deal.
“I’ve made it pretty clear to the university that we’re going to get a deal done in my term. That’s my entire objective,” Nilson said.
The majority of the SU’s revenue comes from operating MacHall. Food vendors, for example, pay the SU for the space they lease in the building. Nilson said one of the biggest stumbling blocks is the level of detail in the agreement.
“The SU wants a really detailed agreement that spells out everything in pretty clear terms so there’s no ambiguity and the university doesn’t want that necessarily,” Nilson said.
Nilson hopes to have the first meetings on the issue with the university this summer. He has had some preliminary meetings with provost Dru Marshall, but said those meetings have been concerning.
“There’s a few things that seem like they would make perfect sense that the university isn’t agreeing too, something like the detailed agreement, and they aren’t really willing to tell us exactly why,” Nilson said.
He hopes the lease agreement can be finalized before the December deadline.
“If we don’t have a deal and our contract is terminated there’s going to be some pretty hefty consequences on both sides,” Nilson said.
The university’s negotiators are currently away and were unavailable for comment.