January 14, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 57  

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All politics no progress,

Who said student politics isn’t interesting?

The York Federation of Students at York University has collapsed into chaos after a week that bore witness to the student council arguably ignoring its own bylaws, the initiation of an impeachment process for its president, a brief coup d’état, potential lawsuits and the university taking over council’s finances.

All of this was interwoven with the ratification process for winners of the YFS’ November elections that critics and media claim carried two slates of candidates with opposing sides of the Middle East conflict.

The most recent episode of the mess began after the current council decided not to ratify the winners from the November by-elections, most of whom were part of a group called Progress Not Politics. PNP, identified as a predominately pro-Israeli group, ran on a platform of focusing on campus and student issues, rather than allowing international politics to play a role in student government.

The current council voted to overrule its elections committee, which had voted to uphold the election results. York administration then stepped in and froze funding for the YFS.

On Monday, the council’s speaker condemned the actions of its members, saying that overruling the elections committee was against its own bylaws — the council promptly voted to ignore the speaker. PNP members then decided to declare themselves the government and went to work in the YFS offices (nervous staff members, likely fearing violence, left).

Currently, the YFS remains in limbo, with both sides examining legal action.

It should take extreme circumstances for a university to interfere with the operation of a student government. That being said, the YFS has clearly acted irresponsibly and the virtual shutdown of the council left York’s administration justified in freezing the YFS’ funding. The administration collects students’ fees on behalf of the YFS, but it is not bound to hand over the money if the Federation is in such a state of disarray.

Approximately 41,000 students are without representation, and the possibility of having their services disrupted, because of the sheer ineptitude of immature and selfish wannabe politicians.

The fact that both groups are viewed as being linked to opposing sides of the Middle East conflict is more than disconcerting. Student elections should not be run with partisan groups or on slates; student representatives should be individuals selected based on their ability to represent student interests, not on whether they support the Israeli or Palestinian cause.

Maybe Western students should be grateful for the upcoming University Students’ Council elections: the issues may be boring, but at least they’ll be related to the university and its students.



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