Getting to business
Referendum put on backburner at CFS annual general meeting
Tucked away in the back of the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) national executive’s report this year was a mention of the University of Regina CFS membership referendum. The report, distributed as part of the delegate binder given to the federation’s member locals at the CFS annual general meeting that ran from Nov. 24–28, contends that the voter’s list for the referendum was “incomplete.” It then outlines the complexities of the voting process that have contributed to the extensive delay of the referendum’s results.
And that’s it.
“Not a whole lot came up specifically about [the University of Regina Students’ Union] itself,” URSU vice president of external affairs Kaytlyn Barber noted.
While Barber acknowledged that several of the issues brought up over the course of the weekend affect Saskatchewan students – issues like those surrounding the Post–Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), a financial assistance program that helps fund education for aboriginal students – she also said that very little specifically about Saskatchewan came up.
And while URSU president Kyle Addison admitted via email that there were “countless awkward and uncomfortable situations throughout the weekend” related to the U of R’s referendum, neither URSU’s delegates nor the CFS general membership went into the meeting with the referendum at the top of their agenda.
The issue was not far from the CFS national executive’s mind, as evidenced by its mention in the delegate binder, and both URSU delegates stated that they wanted to, as Addison put it, “provide a presence in order to put some pressure on getting results for our referendum.” However, there were other concerns that motivated URSU’s attendance in a year when several students’ unions that had also attempted to defederate, like McGill’s Post–Graduate Students’ Society and both the Concordia Students’ Union and Concordia’s Graduate Student Association, did not attend.
“We felt it was important to have a presence at the meeting, and to show that we want and need results from our referendum, and that our members deserve to know,” Barber explained. She then added that URSU’s attendance was meant to “show that we’re engaged in the process and we’re willing to work with CFS … if the will of our members is to remain members, we want to make sure that we can establish a working relationship.”
Addison agreed. “We wanted to make sure URSU was adequately represented at both the AGM and provincial meetings,” he wrote. “Secondly, it is undecided if URSU will continue or terminate their membership with the CFS. With results being so close, we can assume that there is a great deal of students on campus who want to be members, and a great deal that don’t. But we do want to ensure students that we are willing to work with the CFS if we decide to remain members.”
To that end, Barber and Addison sat on subcommittees that reviewed motions presented in opening plenary and made recommendations about those motions that would be taken to the closing plenary. As well, they attended a number of caucuses, including the provincial caucus at which they participated in electing a Saskatchewan representative to the CFS national executive, Laura Toth, who sits as the women’s director on URSU’s board of directors.
And both delegates were adamant that URSU’s participation in these meetings specifically and their attendance at the AGM in general were about helping to ensure that the long–term goals of the CFS would be goals that represented student interests, both in Saskatchewan and across the country. As Barber explained it, the AGM is about setting the direction for the federation, and URSU felt it was important to make sure Saskatchewan voices were heard, regardless of whether the U of R defederated. Addison concurred.
“We attended the AGM to represent our members on all decision making processes,” he wrote. “We accomplished just that.”