Breaking up is now harder to do

CFS passes contentious motion aimed at making it more difficult to defederate


Leaving the Canadian Federation of Students has become more complicated after a controversial motion passed Saturday evening, capping the organization’s three day annual general meeting held in Gatineau. The motion brought forward by the Carleton Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) was likely motivated by a movement launched earlier this year to hold defederation votes at 13 student unions.

Reporting for the Canadian University Press, Emma Godmere writes (You can read the whole story here on page 6):

The sixth motion on the meeting’s original agenda – proposed by local 78, the Carleton Graduate Students’ Association, and dubbed “motion six” throughout plenary, despite a change in motion order – brought forward the greatest debate at the meeting.

The vote on the motion, toward the end of the final plenary of the meeting, was stalled as the hotel’s fire alarm went off in the middle of debate and all present in the room filtered out into the hotel parking lot. After a delay of over 20 minutes, delegates were allowed back into the large room to continue the debate and vote on the motion, which passed 44 to 19.

The motion to bring reforms to the membership referendum process included extending the minimum time period between defederation referendums on a university campus from two years to five years (three years for colleges); limiting the number of such referendums in any three-month period to two for the entire organization; and increasing the number of required referendum petition signatures from 10 per cent of a member local’s student population to 20 per cent.

According to the CUP story, Carleton GSA president Kimalee Phillip says the fact that the motion passed shows “that CFS is stronger than most people assume.” However, due to five abstentions others say that the motion failed to pass with a two-thirds majority as required by CFS rules governing constitutional changes. “Of 69 members present, only 44 supported it. That’s less than [two-thirds], and the question really isn’t more complicated than that,” said CFS-Quebec treasurer Andrew Haig. The CFS chair disagrees and said during the plenary session that constitutional changes require a two-thirds majority of members who actually cast a vote.

No word yet on whether the CFS national executive will consider the matter when they meet in January.


Breaking up is now harder to do

  1. Yeah, any organization that has to pass rules making it harder for it’s members to leave has got to be corrupt.

    this is crazy. a bunch of student governments have decided that they want no part of this crazy organization and they reply by implementing changes to prevent them from leaving.

    bottom line is if you join, you can never quit. so why join? they are a corrupt organization and they spend an unreal amount of their budget on legal fees to sue the student organizations that try to leave.

    If this was any kind of half decent organization they would let their record speak for itself and if a student organization wants to leave, then let them. The bottom line is that if student organizations saw actual value for the money they sent to CFS, then maybe they wouldnt be trying to leave.

    But instead of looking at things they could do to please these groups that want to leave, they pass a law making it harder. They claim it is anti democratic to allow these groups to leave when they see fit and that they should restrict their ability to do this? how democratic is this?

    This is the most corrupt organization I have ever seen.

  2. This only makes it harder to leave if you follow CFS’ rules. The reality remains that you can simply terminate your contract with them, stop paying fees, and pay whatever damages a court may or may not award. I seriously doubt a court would award more than a year’s fees though.

  3. I personally don’t think that Canada is “corrupt” because it has a high standard for breaking up Confederation; nor do I think that the CFS is doing anything wrong by making sure that resources won’t be wasted on frivolous votes initiated by the Conservative clubs on campus.

    The haters with frothing mouths on this site should take a deep breath and just admit that all this referendum hysteria is a proxy for what they actually disagree with: the CFS’ left-leaning policies.

  4. Peter:

    On the first point, I believe most CFS activists will not support comparing student unions to governments. Indeed “student government” is generally never used in CFS discussions (I would add, for good reasons. We’re not governments.)

    On the second point, as a very basic necessary (though maybe not sufficient) criterion for fairness: if these procedures are fair, all of them (the 5 years waiting time, the 20% petition, the two-votes-per-semester-nationwide limit) would apply to referenda to join, as well as they apply to those to leave. This is not the case.

  5. @Peter – There are times when I agree with the CFS and times when I disagree with it. But no matter where my opinion falls, one of the things I hate most about the CFS and its defenders is this constant tendency to dismiss each and every objection to anything it does as some kind of conservative conspiracy.

    Using a generalized term to simply dismiss and delegitimize your critics is an unworthy tactic for any organization. Time and again I’ve seen it used in place of rational discourse, self-examination, or constructive debate. It is a fundamental part of what’s wrong with the CFS. An organization that has rejected even the possibility of constructive criticism is one that not only can go very far wrong but inevitably will go very far wrong. No one is right all of the time. Any individual, or any organization, relies on external opinions to correct the instances when they are not right.

    And please, spare me the next step when you point out that some prominent conservatives oppose and criticize CFS policies and changes. I’m well aware of that. That does not give the CFS blanket license to declare all their opponents to be conservative – any more than it gives the government or university administrators blanket license to dismiss the views and concerns of all students based on the fact that some students are incredibly non-constructive, irrational, and even violent. And yes, some students are. That no more delegitimates the whole student movement than some conservative criticism of the CFS delegitimates all criticism of the CFS.

    Nothing scares me more than an organization that is so utterly convinced it can never be wrong.

  6. Pingback: The Decision should be OURS | CFS – An Unsolicited Opinion

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