The University of Ottawa will hold a referendum in early 2019 that will enable undergraduate students to select a student association as their official representative.
In September the University provided notice of termination of its agreement with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) that it would no longer recognize the federation as the exclusive association representing undergraduate students. The University lost confidence in the SFUO after learning of allegations of financial mismanagement, internal conflict and workplace misconduct within the SFUO. The University requested that the Federation conduct a forensic audit and notified the SFUO that it would withhold the fees it collects from students on behalf of the Federation, for services.
uOttawa has now reviewed the results of the SFUO’s forensic audit. The audit has not restored the University’s confidence in the SFUO’s ability to practice sound financial management.
The University’s highest priority since becoming aware of the initial allegations has been and continues to be to act in the best interests of its students. It is important to emphasize that the decision to conduct a referendum has no connection with the release by the SFUO of the results of the forensic audit recently conducted, nor with recent decisions announced by the SFUO and by individuals previously associated with it with regard to its internal governance practices and management structure.
The University believes that undergraduate students deserve legitimate and trustworthy student government that respects the principles of sound financial management and demonstrates respect for transparent and accountable governance. The University remains firmly committed to working in good faith with a student government that demonstrates a commitment to these principles.
With these considerations in mind, the University will organize a referendum in early 2019, to be conducted and overseen by an impartial external agency, to enable interested groups to present their candidacy and campaign to become the recognized association to represent undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa. Once a representative organization has been selected by students, elections for office will take place in March and the University will then negotiate a new agreement with the selected association.
The University is also studying options to ensure the smoothest possible continuation of student services once the agreement with the SFUO officially comes to an end on December 24, 2018. On that date, the University will no longer recognize the SFUO as the exclusive association representing undergraduate students.
The University will provide more details in the coming weeks of both the referendum and the continuation of student services.
Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs