CFS loses SFU, CBU, UVic referendums

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Canadian Federation of Students is feeling the heat as several student unions across the country are holding referendums on their membership.

The Simon Fraser Student Society, along with the Graduate Student Society at the University of Victoria and the Cape Breton University Students’ Union, have conducted referendums to leave the CFS " a national student advocacy group currently representing over 500,000 university students.

Students at Simon Fraser voted 66 per cent in favour of ceasing membership in the CFS, 92 per cent of Cape Breton students cast ballots to defederate and 58 per cent of graduate students at Victoria voted to leave CFS. Victoria undergrads did not take part in the referendum and will thus remain in the CFS.

CBUSU President Ian Lindsay explained: “I think when CFS was the only option, students stayed with them.”

Lindsay explained CBUSU left the CFS due to its lack of presence on campus. The CBUSU held two separate rallies this year, where the CFS was asked to make an appearance and none was made.

“CFS did not set one foot on our campus all year.

“We know we’ll never give them another dollar,” Lindsay concluded.

Amanda Aziz, national chairperson of CFS, contested Lindsay’s claim, adding Cape Breton’s referendum was illegitimate as it did not conform to federation guidelines.

“That comment [about lack of involvement] frustrates me a lot,” Aziz said. “I know I’ve never received an invitation to attend a single event at the campus.

“Lindsay has never called me to air these grievances.”

Meanwhile on the west coast, several student unions are going through the process of defederating.

Joseph Kolthammer, director of Communications for the GSS at Victoria, said it does not expect any response from CFS on the results of the referendum.

“We had a referendum committee overseeing the entire policy,” Kolthammer said.

Currently the most vocal debate is at Simon Fraser University, but the CFS is not commenting on the results of the referendum and claims the results may change after the appeals process is completed.

Aziz expressed concerns about the accuracy and fairness of the referendum at SFU.

“Ballots are being found outside of polling areas, and there was heavy campaigning near polling stations ... There was a whole host of irregularities and pretty serious complaints,” Aziz said of the referendum.

SFSS President Derrick Harder said the results are definitive.

“I find [CFS complaints] kind of frustrating,” Harder said. “I don’t think the CFS can claim in any way to have been disenfranchised by the process.” Harder added he had not seen any evidence of Aziz’s concerns.

As for the CFS in general, Harder was negative.

“The CFS talks real good lines, but it’s applying a thin veneer of progressive rhetoric to an organization that has seen its actions come out of lying about its stated values.”

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