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
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
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
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.