Months after the vote, U of R students still have no idea whether they’re with CFS or not.
More than two months removed from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) referendum, where University of Regina students voted to either remain a member or part ways with the national students’ union, students and outside observers are still anxiously awaiting October’s referendum results. The University of Regina Student’s Union (URSU), in an attempt to make the results of October’s referendum public, filed a court-ordered injunction against the CFS – and an update on the joint Referendum Oversight Committee’s official website, referendumoversightcommittee.ca, stating that the provisional ballots have been counted seems to indicate that this strategy produced results. Unfortunately, those results haven’t been the ones the students of the U of R have been waiting for.
Although the votes were cast over two months ago, questions regarding who was eligible to vote and disputed ballots that required reviewing to ensure their legitimacy, have left October’s referendum results up in the air, with many observers wondering what exactly happened.
Carillon editor-in-chief John Cameron summarized student frustrations in his Nov. 18 op-ed article, “Remember the referendum?”
“This is a problem that could have been solved months ago, long before anyone voted,” he wrote. “And yet, here we are two weeks later with no results, and not even a hint of which side won,”
Nearly two months later, students are in essentially the same position they were in the days after the referendum took place; the votes have been counted, but the campus remains unaware of what that means for its future.
In an attempt to make the results public, URSU announced on their website on Dec. 2 that it was seeking a court-ordered injunction against the CFS over their ballot-counting process.
An injunction, in its broadest sense, is a court order by which an individual is required to perform, or is restrained from performing, a particular act. It commands an act that the court regards as essential to upholding justice, or it prohibits an act that is deemed “contrary to good conscience.”
“It is unfortunate that students have to wait this long to find out what the end result of the referendum is,” offered URSU President Kyle Addison following the URSU’s injunction announcement in early December. “This court injunction application we are pursuing against the CFS comes as a last resort; we are only doing this to get all the agreed-upon eligible ballots counted, in hopes that students will be able to find out the end result before Christmas.”
Provisional ballots, which have been verified by the U of R’s Registrar’s Office, were initially not counted by members representing the Canadian Federation of Students on the Referendum Oversight Committee (ROC), forcing students to wait even longer on the final results of the CFS referendum.
Even after the ballots had been verified by the U of R’s Registrar’s Office, further delays stemmed from a disagreement between the URSU and the CFS regarding the eligibility of First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) students, who pay dues both to the URSU and the First Nations University of Canada Student Association, to vote in the referendum.
Despite the fact that members of the ROC reached an agreement to count all eligible voters prior to tallying the vote, the decision on eligibility of the FNUC students votes was left undecided until it was determined if the FNUniv student votes would affect the outcome – one way or the other.
The CFS’ ROC representatives refused to continue the ballot counting process until the eligibility of FNUniv students is cleared up, prompting the students’ union to pursue their court-ordered injunction. And while the increased pressure seems to have worked the way URSU intended it to, the ROC’s update is the only news from them in weeks, and has no indication of the actual results; instead, it only reveals that the votes have been counted.
Regardless of the outcome of the referendum or impending injunction, many students and outside observers are frustrated with the progress – or lack thereof – of the referendum process, as “JP” noted on the Carillon’s website, “Voter eligibility should have been determined before the election ever took place. This shows a lack of professionalism on the part of both URSU and the CFS. This referendum casts both organizations in a poor light and weakens my confidence in both to represent my interests as a student.”