BoD takes stance in favour of defederation

Thursday, April 1, 2010

  • In a contentious move, the Board of Directors at the Central Students
Association took an official stance on continued membersh

    In a contentious move, the Board of Directors at the Central Students Association took an official stance on continued membersh

Written by Greg Beneteau

In a contentious move, the Board of Directors at the Central Students Association took an official stance on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students, endorsing the side that wants to leave the organization.

The motion [see below] approved at Wednesday's board meeting directed the CSA to "take an official stance on continued CFS & CFS-O membership... the de-federation stance (Against continued CFS & CFS-O membership)."

It also directed the CSA to publicize its decision to students through various means, including classroom speaking and mass email.

The author of the motion, John Sakaluk (Student Senate Caucus), argued that the presence of CFS volunteers and staff on campus had skewed the terms of the debate toward the YES side, without any effective counterbalance.

"On the one hand, you have an organization that mandates its staff to come onto a campus and campaign to keep a member union in the fold," he said. "It has a significant amount of resources at its disposal. The other side doesn't have any of that."

He said the resolution would allow NO campaigners to use CSA services and equipment, effectively leveling the playing field.

Others argued it wasn't the CSA's place to take sides.

"There's a lot we could be doing to inform people about their options in this referendum without taking a stance like this," said Momina Mir, the CSA's External Affairs Commissioner and representative to the CFS.

Other representatives said they felt uneasy about choosing sides, noting that other campus organizations, including the Guelph Campus Co-op and Interhall Council, voted to stay neutral on the question of CFS membership.

The schism was intensified as members of the board working with the NO group squared off with their elected counterparts on the YES side.

Roisin Lyder (Guelph Campus Co-op) asked how the motion would affect her ability to volunteer with the YES campaign. "Would I be required to do classroom speaking for the NO side?" she asked.

Board Chair Gavin Armstrong said the motion would apply to the organization as a whole and "would not affect if members wanted to campaign for one side or the other."

Academic Affairs Commissioner Nathan Lachowsky, a NO committee member, noted that the CSA spent $70,000 in legal fees trying to force the CFS to hold a referendum on campus.

This drew a retort from Anastasia Zavarella (GQE). "I'd like to know whose decision it was to spend $70,000 of students' money," she said.

Board rep Guillaume Blais, who supports the NO side, said students deserved to know where their elected representatives stood. "People have elected us to take a stance on issues... this is my decision," he said.

An amendment suggested by CSA transitions and policy manager Jakki Doyle that would see the CSA publicize the vote itself, rather than the NO stance, was voted down.

The final vote was 13-7, with one abstention. Galen Fick, the CSA representative on the Referendum Oversight Committee, chose to note his abstention. The other CSA ROC member, Gavin Armstrong, was chairing and did not vote.

The seven who voted against the motion also noted their abstentions: Momina Mir, Denise Martins, Roisin Lyder, Anastasia Zavarella, Malissa Bryan, Ana Snyderhan and Rachel Tam.

Wording of the motion

WHEREAS, the CSA works to serve and protect the rights of undegraduate students at the University of Guelph [Appendix B.1]

WHEREAS, the members of the Board must work to protect and further the rights and interest of students [B.3.4], be prepared to speak to classes during times of significant importance to the CSA, to actively promote student involvement in CSA issues, events and campaigns [B.3.4.2]

WHEREAS, the Executive is to attemot to gain maximum student involvement, to inform and educate students around involvement, to inform and educate students around issues concerning them, to take targeted initiatives from the Board of Directors and implement them... [9.1.2]

BIRT, the CSA take an official stance on continued CFS and CFS-O membership.

BIRT, the CSA take the de-federation stance (Against continued CFS & CFS-O membership).

BIRT, the CSA publicizes this stance to the students, which includes, but is not limited to, classroom speaking by the members of the board and a mass email.

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  1. Posted by: V on Apr 1, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    I would have been liked to be asked first whether I'd like to spend 70,000 suing CFS, before being asked whether I'd like to remain a member of CFS.

  2. Posted by: demetria on Apr 3, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    I agree 100% V.

  3. Posted by: Brianna on Apr 4, 2010 @ 9:16am

    @V; @demetria - The CFS collects $225,000 per year of UofG student money, where of the five main services they offer, *NOT less than 65%* of students voted saying they have never accessed these services. These services include: ISIC cards, Travel Cuts, Studentsaver Cards, StudentPhones, and SWAP. This is from a current 2009-2010 CSA survey.

    How much more of a vote do you want?
    Students here are not using the CFS resources, why should we continue to pay outrageous amounts to the CFS?

    And it is the responsibility of the CSA to represent students in our best interests. If we pay $70,000 in legal fees this year, to save $225,000 next year, UofG students would collectively spend $155,000 LESS in ONE year.

    Oh, and you get a chance to voice your opinion before "Motion 6" would make that nearly impossible. If you are not aware of what that motion entails, I encourage you to delve a little deeper into the issue at hand before you cast your vote later this week (if you choose to vote).

    I fully support the decisions made by the CSA on this topic, and am happy to hear that the BoD is taking a stance. After all, we elected these people to represent us!

  4. Posted by: V on Apr 4, 2010 @ 11:04am

    And if we DON'T defederate, we just lost 70,000. I reiterate, I would have first liked to be asked if I want to use student money to sue someone. As far as I know, that wasn't even a decision at the board level, so even the board wasn't asked if they'd like to sue CFS.

  5. Posted by: Cassarek on Apr 11, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    @V - the point is moot. The students have spoken, and they have more than overwhelmingly voted to spend the $155 000 less.

    Is this the point where we wave goodbye?

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