CFS could stay relevant -

CFS could stay relevant

After a tough year full of defederation votes and court battles, new chair has a lot of work to do


If last week’s Canadian Federation of Students national general meeting is any indication of what’s to come for the organization, they will be in for some considerable progress.

Coming out of probably one of their toughest years in recent memory — several schools held membership referendums with or without CFS approval in 2009-2010, with some pitting students’ unions against the national lobby group in court — the reports from the Nov. 24-27 meeting show an organization that is more united and more focused than ever.

The agenda was more or less controversy-free, focusing more on campaigns as opposed to last year’s drastic referendum bylaw reforms, and the election of the next national chairperson elicited a standing ovation from the crowd — an apparent CFS first in some time.

With the future of post-secondary education entering a significant redefining period in Canada, it’s no wonder Roxanne Dubois is such a rallying force as she pledges to put campaign work at the forefront of her tenure.

“I suspect that in the next few months, and definitely in the next year, [campaigns] will take a bigger place just because of what may be happening in terms of education,” she told the Canadian University Press. “It is my wish that students in this country realize the importance of working together.”

Co-operation and campaigns for lower tuition fees are one thing, but there are still a number of struggles the organization faces moving forward. Several campuses are still mounting campaigns to leave the national lobby group. Others continue to be embroiled in court arguments with the CFS trying to meet the same end.

Students at these campuses are confused, being given petitions to leave the organization and counter-petitions to stay. Judges are being told that some signatures count while others are invalid, and all of it costs precious student dollars.

Dubois has an opportunity to set a standard around which the CFS can rally and effect serious change. But the troops that she needs to co-ordinate are not only those who elected her in Ottawa, but the tens of thousands spread across Canada, and who are increasingly questioning the relevance of their membership.

The importance of working together goes two ways. If she trusts students to command their own destiny, then the petitions being circulated on several campuses should be allowed to stand. There is strength in numbers, it’s true, but that strength is worth astonishingly little if its members more closely resemble a conscripted force than a volunteer army.

Dubois has been given an incredible mandate for leadership, and it’s up to her now to make it a reality. I, for one, think she can.


CFS could stay relevant

  1. I wish you would highlight this sentence in yellow, use bold font and underline the following sentence: “There is strength in numbers, it’s true, but that strength is worth astonishingly little if its members more closely resemble a conscripted force than a volunteer army.”

    This is a major problem that the CFS and its brass cannot seem to put their heads around and will inevitably lead it the demise of this organization. You cannot claim to be a democratic organization in one breath and then, deny member locals referendums when they have submitted legitimate petitions (which then go “missing”) in the next.

    I genuinely wish I was as optimistic as you, Danielle. However, until I see the changes that the organization so desperately needs to make come to fruition, I will a staunch critic of the way the CFS functions.

  2. CORRECTION: I will remain* a staunch critic of the way the CFS operates*.

  3. Oh, and then there’s this just out of the University of Regina Student Union:

    Not at all convinced that Dubois’ change of position from National Treasurer to National Chair will make much of a difference.

  4. Can’t strike but your university harbours a man who has called for the murder of journalist Julian Assange.

    Tom Flanagan is not fit to teach you.

    Turn your back on him.

    Julian Assange is the bravest journalist to ever walk the face of the earth.

    Here is a link to an article written by a lawyer who has represented Julian in the past. In this story you will find out the truth about the charges the Swedish authorities are trying to slander the good name of Julian Assange with:

  5. Not to mention that while in office at SFUO Dubois was accused of breaking rules against slates and voting in conflict of interest on the election appeal process…common tactics for CFS operatives everywhere.