January 29, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 66  

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York’s new council plans to leave CFS

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

York University’s new student union representatives were finally ratified last Thursday after defending their November election victory against accusations from some of the losing candidates.

According to Paul Cooper, president of the York Federation of Students, one of the first things the federation will deal with is to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, a federal student lobby group.

“We are intent on leaving the CFS — we will be defederating from CFS at the earliest opportunity, in anyway possible,” he said, adding the issue would be addressed at their first meeting since ratification, scheduled for today.

“There are absolutely no benefits to students to be part of CFS, except maybe the [International Student Identity Cards],” Cooper noted. “CFS embodies [a] political agenda that has distracted from student politics.”

But Joel Duff, Ontario Chairperson for the CFS, said he disagreed. “Lower tuition and better quality education are the benefits of CFS — the [provincial government’s] tuition freeze is a direct success of [a CFS] campaign.”
York’s student union has been a member of CFS since 1991, Duff confirmed. “Their students voted to join and [if they were to leave] it’s obviously not just a decision of the council.

“I don’t know any of the specifics of what council’s doing,” he said.

“Historically, it has been very difficult for student unions to pull out of CFS. The rules surrounding referendums and aggressive campaigns [by CFS] combine to form a difficult situation,” explained Dave Ford, University Students’ Council VP-education. Ford also serves as the Ontario representative of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, another federal student lobby group.

York’s population of approximately 50,000 students will mean a significant loss of membership to the CFS, Ford explained. “But this by no means [will cause] the demise of that organization,” he said. “CFS, CASA and [the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance] always deal with membership fluctuations; this is a constant.”

When asked if YFS was planning to join CASA, Cooper declined to comment.



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