CUSA is not actually sorry -

CUSA is not actually sorry


The following news release was sent out by the Carleton University Students Association at 11:30 this morning:

Attention News Editors:

Carleton University Students’ Association moves to reverse decision on Shine-A-Rama

OTTAWA, Nov. 26 /CNW Telbec/ – Carleton University Students’ Association President Brittany Smyth has indicated that CUSA council will revisit the motion to change the orientation program charity from Shine-A-Rama.

“It has become clear that there is not an appetite at Carleton to change from Shine-A-Rama” said Ms.Smyth “The responsible thing to do is to reverse the decision.”

While the motion merely stated the students’ association would investigate switching to another charity, students have made it clear that they do not want the change.

“I both respect and admire the students’ commitment to the cause of raising funds for cystic fibrosis.” stated Ms.Smyth “I believe this issue has been blown out of proportion but the motion was never meant to imply that raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research was not a worthwhile cause. I do apologize for the negative attention Carleton has received”.

I’m not going to mince words here. This release is pathetic.

CUSA does not admit it is wrong, and instead blames others for ‘blowing their actions out of proportion.’

CUSA apology is half-hearted at best and insincere.

Ms. Smyth, you’re supposed to apologize for your actions, not just the “negative attention” they’ve resulted in. What you’re really saying is, “CUSA is sorry people found out how uninformed we are.”

If “[T]he motion was never meant to imply that raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research was not a worthwhile cause,” then what did the motion actually mean?

Start giving people answers instead of spin. (Actually, the best thing to do at this point is shut up and resign)

CUSA states the motion merely stated they were looking at other charities. It was more specific than that, it stated CUSA would “select a new broad reaching charity for orientation week.”

The motion was clear: the position of Carleton students as represented by their student government is that Cystic Fibrosis is unworthy of support because, as a ‘white male disease, it is not broad and inclusive enough to be worthy of the support of the Carleton undergraduate student body.

I have yet to hear CUSA actually saying anything close to, “We were wrong and we’re sorry.”

Another thing that would be nice to hear: an apology for the claims made at CUSA council that students were pushing for this change in the first place.


CUSA is not actually sorry

  1. I hope that Brittany in a media…She could work for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp with this sort of twisted, benign thinking…

  2. For the record, I didn’t agree with the wording of the motion, in particular the issue about diversity. But I think CUSA, as does any other student union, has the right to democratically decide where they put their efforts, including in relation to fundraising. The reasoning is a different issue. There are actually many good reasons why CUSA might want to change who it is fundraising for, but this has been lost in the media hysteria (and it is hysteria) around one particular phrase.

    Unfortunately, this episode once again confirms that student union democracy, including the rights of of the membership and its elected representatives to make decisions, has been subverted and damaged by the corporate media hysteria and the right-wing punditocracy (this blog included) which has no respect for the rights of student unions to make their own decisions, whether financial, political or otherwise. The motion in question was voted on democratically, whereas CUSA’s decision to revisit the motion has not been a product of democratic debate.

    But of course, this has nothing to do with democracy or even the issue at hand, but rather an agenda to damage student unions, particularly those affiliated to CFS.

  3. Doug, would you agree with the same motion but instead replace CF with AIDS and white with homosexual?

    What is not democratic about student outrage changing the position of the students union?

    I heard the vast right-wing conspiracy planned the motion and forced everyone to vote for it.

  4. Actually Doug, this is not some big conspiracy agains student unions. I do agree that student unions have the right to make their own decisions and personally I think there might have been some logic in looking into whether CUSA should be involved in other charities instead of CF.

    The problem here is that poorly researched, totally bone-headed motion with a good dose of faulty logic. Not to mention no one on council knowing even the basics of Roberts Rules of Orders. CUSA deserves evey bit of critisim they are getting; unfortunately, CUSA is also taking Carleton University down with it. CUSA, specifically their exectutive, has to step up and admit they screwed up, apologize profusely and try to fix things as best they can.

    Also it should be noted that the two people who brought forth this stupid motion are not some first year students but actually more senior students who should have had a better grasp of how the world works. One was a third year science major – obviously he has little if any knowledge about basic genetics let alone the ability to write a motion. While the other is a fourth year law major. Needless to say, if I was an employer I would definitely think twice about hiring either one of these two. Then agin the CUSA president is not helping her future employment options by her poor performances in the media. Although, I would give her some slack as we are not all made for the media glare, but her problem solving skills and tin ear will not impress future employers. My guess is this three and a good chunk of the council members are doomed to careers as “students-for-lfe” because they have not been showing too many useful skills other then how not to handl a crisis.

  5. CUSA being subverted by a right-wing punditocracy? No respect for the right of student unions? I had to re-read that to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Why would the so-called right wing care an iota about University student unions in the first place? The media coverage was spawned by an absolutely stupid motion that was based on pathetically researched evidence that a genetic disease was not inclusive enough? Why are students voting in deluded morons for their student leadership? I am passionate about this subject because I lost of loved one to CF and the last thing I want to read about is immature idiots spreading falsehoods about a terrible disease that kills people in the flower of their youth. Geez what a surprise the person I lost was a GIRL

    Has political correctness degenerated this far in our Universities? Have these so-called student leaders lost all common sense (did they have any in the first place)? Merely to disagree with seemingly Marxist student unions now the product of right-wing conspiracy? Why not just ADMIT you were wrong and apologize, passing the buck makes you look worse. I am embarrassed to admit I have a degree from that place now.

  6. Oh my God Doug, did you actually just suggest that the operation of media in response to issues represents a subversion of democracy? Do you even understand what the CFS does, and all that is implied by all that “lobbying” they do? The CFS exists to affect change (presumptively, democratic change) by attracting media attention to the issues they identify. That’s what lobbying is.

    This particular issue CUSA ended up wearing all over their face. But it isn’t undemocratic just because it upsets you. This is democracy in action brother. A lot of people found out about something stupid and pushed hard on their elected representatives to fix it. And to their credit, they did – albeit very halfheartedly.

    Not every story you dislike is a conspiracy or a planned attack. I won’t claim media bias is an illusion, because there are certainly more and less sympathetic media out there, depending on the topic. But this one is so black and white they’re making fun of it in Australia. If you can’t see that, I can only conclude you’re so blinded by your ideological commitments you’ve simply collapsed “right” and “wrong” with “people who I like” and “people who I don’t like.” That’s a very dangerous intellectual habit to fall into.

  7. “Shut up and resign”?

    Are you kidding me?

    That’s just hyperbolic idiocy.

    The students’ union has every right to decide how it invests its time and energy.

    And clearly, the students’ union chose to respond to calls to keep Shinerama. Is that so controversial? Irresponsible? Wrong?

    No. It’s called being responsive. That’s a good thing.

    Was the issue blown out of proportion? I believe so. I’ll reiterate: approving a motion does not necessarily imply endorsement of the motion’s original preamble (i.e., “whereas” clauses).

    Is your blog-smearing journalism? No. It’s just political opportunism masquerading as journalism.

    Why is that so obvious? Because, rather than applauding responsiveness, you’re calling for resignations.

    Transparent, politically motivated, hyperbolic idiocy.

  8. I regret that my tax dollars are being spent by Carleton University to fund these ridiculous, brainless, dickless, bleeding heart liberal fascists…in the Student Association…By the way…I’m a white male who doesn’t have CF…

  9. Hi my name is Alison, i am almost 30 years old, when I was born, they told my mother that i would not live to see 5 years old. For the record, I am not male, I am a female. I have whiter than white skin, it’s pretty much translucent. I live everyday now, with oxygen on my face, I can’t walk more than 30 feet without gasping for a breath. I have frequent bouts of pneumonia, where i usually spend 4-6 weeks in the hospital, with medications researched by the funds raised by Shinerama.

    I live with my husband, we just got married. I don’t have children. Not because i can’t, because i don’t want to put my health in jeopardy. Without Shinerama, I don’t know where i would be, without the support of Universities year after year. I get to live longer. So why would you take that time away from me? Why can’t I live longer, just like you, who doesn’t have CF? Why do I have to depend on the help of others, to determine how long I get to live? You don’t?

    It doesn’t bother me that they canceled Shinerama, I am upset about what they said. Carleton was No.1 in Ottawa year after year in the fundraising for CF. I am upset because of the pig headed losers, who don’t know how to turn on a computer, type in Cystic Fibrosis, and read a freaking monitor. Maybe we should get rid of Computers, cause clearly, CUSA needs to have things written, on a paper in Black & White.

  10. I think you’re missing the point Rick. It’s fine to pull funding for a cause (It is your money after all). It’s fine to re-instate said funding if your constituents want you to as well. However if you pull said funding because of racist factual inaccuracies than there most certainly is a problem. By not admitting there was a problem, she is, in essence, allowing this to go unchallenged and not admitting there was anything wrong with saying it. Since you are a vocal proponent of the “progressive” CFS, I would think that any statement derogatory to a specific demographic would draw your ire. If not, it should.

  11. Rick,

    I agree with what your saying but Joey’s posts have always been labeled as a ‘blog’. I have always read his posts as merely an opinion. Joey has a biased, he has opinions, and he reports on certain stories and not others, just like other bloggers. If I wanted to read an article written by a journalist, I would read other sections of the Maclean’s site.

    In terms of the issue being blown out of proportion, possibly. However, student union leaders need to realize that this is 2008. Every single word on a motion will be reviewed by anyone with an internet connection. Every single action has the potential to be twisted or blogged on. Sure it might be sad, but that’s what bloggers and the internet have done. Student Union leaders just need to take a little more time when considering motions and their actions. There just seems to be no room for mistakes of any kind.

  12. James,

    As I have said previously, the original rationale/preamble was obviously wrongheaded and incorrect; to be clear, it was hugely problematic, divisive, and insensitive.

    “The point,” I think, is that the decision-makers — certainly the leadership — did not endorse the original rationale/preamble. But that is what smear-bloggers, like Coleman, are saying.


  13. Is it because that it his opinion (hence the blog bit)?

    I did enjoy listening to the radio spot and CTV interview … good chuckles…

  14. As I sit here reading all of these comments I cannot believe what time is wasted on these days. I am a 28 yr old woman currently awaiting my 2nd double lung transplant. I was born with cystic fibrosis. I am currently on oxygen, have diabetes (cf related), have an ostomy (due to a bowel obstruction-cf related). I had my first double lung transplant Jan 2006 and my body is now rejecting those lungs. I have been waiting 8 months now for a second transplant. I have fought (and continue to fight) for every breathe that I take. You can bet I wouldn’t be arguing over some news article if I could breathe and enjoy life. Get outside, take a breathe and ask yourself….does it really matter? The university has apologized (sorta)…let it go…

  15. @Rick

    Maybe cause CUSA voted in favour of the motion? When you pass a motion, you endorse it.

  16. What is disappointing is that this release does not admit any wrong doing, nor take responsibility for basing the decision on incorrect information. University students in particular should be expected to thoroughly research a subject before writing about it. Obviously this was not done. The motion was poorly worded, unsophisticated, based on misinformation, and some would say, contained elments of bias, including racism and sexism.

    I have no fault with CUSA making the decision to support a different charity. There are certainly no shortage of worthy ones out there. This is not about that. This is about the method and excecution of that decision.

    Why not pass a motion stating that the board would like to donate to more than one charity and so have decided to pick four charities and rotate the donations each year. Or pick several charities and split the donation between them. To single out this one charity, decide it isn’t ‘inclusive’ enough, and then to spew out misinformation about it to substantiate their position shows they were narrow minded, short sighted, and irresponsible.

    Again – this controversy has absolutely NOTHING to do with the right of CUSA to choose which charities their fundraisers support. And if they represent the will of the students, they should be able to choose to whom they donate. But do it responsibly and for reasons that have nothing to do with race and inclusiveness.

    Quite frankly if the council cannot see the real issue here, then they should resign and let other students take their places. This should not be about covering one’s own mistakes up by placing blame on others. It should be about resolving the situation, apologizing, and moving forward.

  17. There is nothing wrong with pursuing diversity in the workplace. There is nothng wrong with pursuing diversity in the teaching population or the teaching curriculum. And in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with affirmative action policies to pursue diversity.

    What IS morally wrong, however, is to discriminate against a particular group of people when providing them with medical help. In a sense, raising money to help treat or conduct research into a disease is a form of medical aid. But its morally wrong to base medical assistance and aid on “diversity” goals. Medical assistance is — and should — be provided on the basis of the seriousness of the disease and the number of people who get it. AND NOTHING ELSE.

    Can you imagine what our health care system would be like if people like the current CCFF council ran it? People would get emergency treatment not based on need, but based on ‘diversity’ goals. A white male suffering a heart attack would have to wait longer for treatment than a black female with a broken finger.

    These people are a moral disgrace, and they should be dismissed from the Carleton student council. They’ve shown that they have neither the common sense nor the sense of dignity, decency and compassion towards their fellow human beings to be in a position of responsibility. And they have severely damaged Carleton’s reputation.

  18. Re Comment by Wayne Hall.

    Wayne the biggest problem I see is this idiotic obsession with equality and “diversity” . Canada is already as diverse as any country in the world, the only racism and quotas I have witnessed institutionally is against White males. Why the hell does Canada need affirmative action, I get so damn tired of reading about crap like this. Are woman and ethnic minorities incapable of finding employment is a country as fair and diverse as CANADA without special treatment? NONSENSE!!! Where i live in BC, “caucasians” are hardly the majority, affirmative action is a complete waste of time.

    Kids get so brainwashed about “equality” they get convinced bias and exclusivity is OK as long as it’s white males being vitimized. Racism is RACISM , no matter guise it comes in and the recent actions of CUSA shows how socialy acceptable it seems to have become to pick on male whitey in our schools and universities. The mere fact the counsellors voted 17-2 in favor to dump CF and didn’t realize how insensitive and STUPID the motion was. Are these kids morons ( maybe) or does it say something loud and clear how actions for “diversity” have degenerated to good old fashion bias, bigotry and racism. Man anyone who cries about lack of diversity in this country hasn’t travelled abroad.

  19. Shouldn’t the academic standards at Carleton be increased so that mental midgets aren’t accepted to the school or CUSA ? or is this discrimination and bigotry against mental midgets ?

  20. Rick you’re a decent spin artist, seriously though, you’re working overtime on this one.

    If they didn’t endorse the preamble, why endorse the motion, WHICH ENDORSES THE PREAMBLE!

    Rick, I know you care for your significant other/family member/friend that voted in favour of this motion as part of the board of members, but give it up.

  21. Thank you Rick for being the only person in this blog commentary to make the point that this is getting totally out of hand.

    This whole ridiculous ‘scandal’ has been blown WAY OUT OF PROPORTION by the media and CU students who are ‘protesting’ but are uninformed as to what CUSA actually does for the student population, and what CUSA’s actual intent on changing charities was.

    CUSA is a Student’s Association, who does nothing but try to provide for their students and give back to the community. CUSA’s suggestion that perhaps its time to start supporting another charity was not necessary a bad idea, nor was it ever a permanent change. IT WAS A SUGGESTION PEOPLE!!!!!! Council merely voted in supoprt of SUGGESTING A CHANGE!

    I think that CF is a VERY worthy cause and participated as did most CU students in the Shinerama fundraising, however there are a million other very worthy charities we could also help! Carleton has made CF over $1M in the years they have supported them. Why is is bad to want to simply consider helping another charity out???

    The fact that there was an error in the facts about CF representation in the population was indeed unfortunate, and came off very badly. However, everyone makes mistakes, and this was not the deciding factor in anything.

    Perhaps folks should actually contact the CUSA representatives and instead of attacking them with anger, they could hear the FACTS and discover the fact that half of this ‘coverage’ was perpetrated by a radical student group at Carleton University that DOES NOT SUPPORT CUSA and does everything is its power to smear CUSA. It took this error and ran with it. Unfortuately now, everything CUSA does will appear as backpedalling, even when their original intent was not discriminatory.

    I’m certain that most people will just be content to continue spew their anger and not get the real story, or will not listen to the facts — which is so unfortunate for CUSA’s representatives who are capable intelligent young men and women(for the writer who attacked their intelligence)for they are now stuck dealing with media who don’t bother doing their homework and publish responsible journalism (so common these days) before they started their smear across the country.

    Seriously disappointed in everyone who hasn’t bothered to get both sides of the story and investigate who’s agenda is really being furthered by this total attack on CUSA.

  22. As a student at Carleton, I’d like to point out that Smyth’s claims that CUSA was only interested in being “inclusive” and that “this was blown way out of proportion” seems really disingenuous to me.

    About a month and a half ago they told the Canadian Council for the Blind that they could not set-up an information booth in the Atrium, a student commons, because they didn’t believe in letting “corporate entities” onto student space.

    This bothered me because every year the CCB donates $25,000 in bursaries to Carleton Students with visual impairments.

    I don’t even wann talk about what they said to me when I went in with a proposal to recognize students with with non-visible disabilities.
    I think the real question to ask of CUSA is why they don’t seem to care about issues that they can’t score political points from.

    Honestly, Brittany even the blind can see you’re just sorry you got caught!

  23. In response to CU Grad:

    CU Grad the motion speaks for itself:

    “Motion to Drop Shinerama Fundraising Campaign from Orientation Week:

    Whereas Orientation week strives to be inclusive as possible;

    Whereas all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve the their (sic) diverse communities;

    **And Whereas Cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men.**

    Be it resolved that: CUSA discontinue its support of this campaign.

    Be it further resolved that that (sic) the CUSA representatives on the incoming Orientation Supervisory Board work to select a new broad reaching charity for orientation week.”

    We don’t have to read anything more to conclude that this decision was racist and sexist. Enough said.

  24. Donnie Northurp braggs in a response to Jonathan Kay’s blogg in the National Post 11/25/2008 that “I get payed(sic)lots of money and have my tuition covered as part of being a councilor in CUSA”. Why is no one demanding his resignation from CUSA? It is his rascist and sexist proposal that started this whole mess. If he can be hired he can be fired and that is where students should be foucsing their efforts. Make the person that is actually responsible, for making you all look bad, suffer the consequences of his actions.
    And for those of you trying to claim this is just about changing charities, read the proposal. No where does it say that Carleton does such a good job of raising money that we need to look at spreading the wealth around, it says there is a need to find a more inclusive disease. I have news for the CUSA, if they would bother to do real research, they would be hard put to find a much more inclusive disease.

  25. CU grad & Rick, by endorsing the motion, the CUSA has endorsed the whereas clauses associated with it. This is written into Robert’s Rules of Order, on which the CUSA constitution relies to govern the decorum of meetings. The third of the whereas clauses is explicitly racist/sexist, not to mention just plain wrong. The second whereas clause is dubious, because there is no evidence that the volunteer community was unhappy with CCFF.

    Whether or not their actual intent was discriminatory is irrelevant. The purpose of the whereas clauses in a motion is to convey the intent of the board for passing the motion, since the specifics of the debate will not generally be seen by the public unless without looking into the entire minutes of the meeting. If the board has reasoned that the whereas clause was discriminatory, it was fully in their power to change it. The CUSA has made this situation worse for themselves (and the student population at large) for not taking responsibility for their error. Had an immediate retraction and apology for the motion’s content been released, the problem likely wouldn’t have left the campus walls.