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New union to elect leadership in March after forming contract with U of O

The University of Ottawa Student Union (UOSU) has won the student referendum to determine a new student union.

They were declared the official winner of the referendum on Feb. 11 and will now begin the process of taking over as the University of Ottawa’s exclusive student union.

The final vote was a decisive victory for the UOSU, beating out the incumbent Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), with 4205 votes in favour of the UOSU and 1423 for the SFUO.

According to a Dec. 7 statement from the university, the UOSU has two weeks to incorporate as a non-profit corporation and begin negotiations with the U of O’s administration. The SFUO will maintain all union services until April 30 as per an email sent to students from the University of Ottawa’s administration on Dec. 13. Those services can then be transferred to the new union—a process agreed to in the SFUO’s interim agreement with the administration.

The UOSU claimed during a Feb.5 debate that they would respect all previous services that relied on referendum votes to be implemented. However, an email from the university administration sent on feb.12 claims “each service will be responsible for securing the agreement of undergraduate students.” The email notes that the implementation of Doug Ford’s academic funding reforms will affect the ongoing funding of these services.

The university’s administration has said an election for the UOSU’s first elected positions will be launched in March. But the organization must first establish a working agreement with the university that will dictate the specifics of the UOSU`s role on campus. In a campaign debate on Feb.5, the founding members of the UOSU agreed not to run for any elected positions. They claimed this was to prevent conflicts of interest.

The U-Pass is negotiated through a program run by OC Transpo—It will continue to run until the end of students’ current pass validity. The healthcare coverage negotiated by the SFUO has already been paid for and will continue until the end of the 12 month validity period in September 2019. The UOSU will need to establish new contracts with OC Transpo and GreenShield Insurance to continue coverage beyond these points.

The UOSU has claimed in a Feb.5 campaign debate, that they will continue both services. But they will not be able to begin their own negotiations with third-parties until they have been properly incorporated and approved by the school.