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The UOSU says Pivik and its two other businesses will open in 2020. Photo: Parker Townes/Fulcrum

Women’s Resource Centre and Pride Centre to merge, UOSERT joins Protection Services

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) says it’s hoping to open the doors of its 10 service centres in late September or early to mid-October and its three businesses sometime next year.

The union originally hoped to have the service centres open by the start of this month, but advocacy commissioner Sam Schroeder said they pushed back the launch date to ensure staff are hired in time and the logistics are fine-tuned. 

“We want to make sure (the service centres are) open and really providing all the services (they’re) supposed to be offering,” Schroeder said. 

The UOSU is set to run all of the service centres previously offered by the now-defunct Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) except for the University of Ottawa Student Emergency Response Team (UOSERT), which has become a part of Protection Services. The move will help the team receive better funding, resources and support, UOSU student life commissioner Jason Seguya said.

“The way dispatch would usually work is Protection Services and UOSERT would be called at different times to the same scene,” said Seguya. “Now they’re working together as an organization, they’ll be able to plan what their dispatch looks like and what their first response looks like.”

The Women’s Resource Centre and the Pride Centre, previously two separate bodies, will be merged to form the Sexual Health and Wellness Centre. Seguya said the joining of the two services helped them to be declared an essential service under the Student Choice Initiative, securing funding.

The other nine service centres are the Bike Co-Op, Food Bank, Peer Help Centre, Sustainable Development Centre, Bilingualism Centre, Foot Patrol, Centre for Students with Disabilities, International House and Student Rights Centre. 

Seguya said the UOSU is now recalling SFUO staff previously employed at service centres, who were unionized under CUPE 4943. An agreement was signed to recognize the UOSU as the new employer, he said.

“We started seeing folks come back as early as Sept. 5,” Seguya said. 

The union also plans to open its three businesses previously run by the SFUO, which includes Pivik, Café Alt and 1848, sometime next year.

Seguya said the 2020 ribbon-cutting date will mean the UOSU can “help the businesses run in the best way they can, rather than opening them for the sake of opening them.”

The UOSU announced in a Facebook post in April that it would not take on Agora Bookstore, citing financial challenges posed by the Student Choice Initiative.

“As the Agora Bookstore relies heavily on student levies (totalling $11.12 per student, per semester) which are now deemed non-essential, taking on this business risks putting the UOSU in a perilous financial situation in our first year of existence,” the post reads.

“I felt for each and every one of the employees who worked there, there were folks who had worked for 20 years with the intention of retiring in those spaces,” Seguya said. “It was a heartbreaking situation.” 

Schroeder says the UOSU has just hired its services director, communications administration director and the finance director. The general manager was hired in July, Schroeder said.

Editor’s note (17/09/19 1:42 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated the UOSU has just hired its business director. In fact, the UOSU has just hired its finance director. The Fulcrum regrets this error.