Pathetic turnout for Waterloo’s CASA vote
By Laura Katsirdakis
For once, the fact that most university students do not know
about student lobby groups may have actually benefitted one
On Mar. 10 and 11, the University of Waterloo’s Federation
of Students held a referendum asking students if they wanted
the Federation to remain a member of the Canadian Alliance
of Student Associations. Although more than 50 per cent voted
to leave CASA, the vote failed to meet quorum, and therefore
is not binding.
According to Brandon Sweet, the Federation’s chief returning
officer, 329 of the 20,817 total eligible voters voted to remain
members of CASA, and 385 voted to leave. This means 1.58 per
cent of eligible voters opted to stay, while 1.84 per cent
wanted to leave CASA.
“[Those wishing to leave CASA] did win; however, Federation
quorum states that the majority has to have at least seven
per cent of the eligible voters for the referendum to be binding,” Sweet
“It was our hope that students would [take an interest
in this issue],” said Liam McHugh-Russell, the federation’s
VP-education, explaining a campaign was conducted over seven
days to inform students.
“[CASA] national director [James Kusie] and regional
director, Dave Ford, came on campus to assist with the campaign
at various points,” Sweet said, adding the campaign included
posters, public meetings, classroom speeches and information
posted on the web.
“There was a motion at [Sunday’s] council meeting
to reconsider — there might still be a vote [within council]
to leave CASA in April,” McHugh-Russell said, adding
that just because the referendum did not reach quorum does
not mean the issue is not worth considering.
“Referendums tend to be tied to presidential elections,
but this one wasn’t,” Ford said. “There simply
wasn’t enough organizing [to generate student interest].”
“I am disappointed that the turnout was so low — general
knowledge of what CASA is is pretty low,” Kusie said.
“We are happy that [Waterloo] decided to remain committed
to CASA — [in the council meeting following the referendum]
they didn’t vote to leave, and they decided to attend
the March [CASA] conference and recommend a course of action
after that,” he said.
“We will be debating and adopting a strategic plan [at
CASA’s March conference] which will address many of [the]
members’ concerns,” Kusie explained, adding this
debate will give member schools a chance to voice concerns
about the future of the organization.