The ESS vs. the CFS

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And they're off!

University of Regina student Devon Peters heard about the CFS referendum from the Education Students' Society today, through their U of R-run listserv. But he heard about it in a pretty interesting way:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Education Technician <Education.Technician@uregina.ca>
Date: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 8:42 AM
Subject: [Undergrad] ESS: CFS Referendum
To: Education-Undergraduates <Education-Undergraduates@education.uregina.ca>

CFS Referendum

Do you know what the CFS is?


Well that's a pretty good start.

Did you know we pay them $89,000 a year for students services? Can you answer the question "what tangible services can I can the CFS has provided me as an CFS student?" If you answered no to any of those questions, listen up.

Uh oh.

On October 26-28, 2010 students at the U of R will have an opportunity to vote in a Referendum on the following question:

"Are you in favor of continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students?"

Voting booths will be placed across campus from Oct 26-28 from 8am-9pm. By voting yes, the U of R will be under contract with the CFS for the next five years. By voting no, we will leave the CFS and the money will be subtracted from student fees.

BUT! In order for this referendum to be voted down, 20% of the entire student population must vote no. Previous URSU elections have received less than 20% voter turnout so we need YOU to make a choice and vote. Take five minutes and google these three terms:

1. CFS financial transparency
2. Canadian schools leaving the CFS
3. CFS Saskatchewan

Then ask yourself, what tangible services as the CFS provided U of R students? and is that worth paying $89,000/year?

To see the viewpoint of the many U of R students who are against CFS, visit their Facebook group at
http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=110604165626903

A message from your ESS on behalf of URSU
ureginaess@gmail.com

Technically I guess they never promised that it would be an announcement about the referendum. But boy, is that language ever, uh, loaded. And is it ever missing any information at all about the "yes" side of the campaign. It's almost as if university administration resources were utilized to distribute one-sided referendum propaganda to students of an entire faculty. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I like the sound of that.

Devon Peters didn't like the sound of it either. The email he sent in response is [sic], but then again so was the ESS', so let's maybe focus instead on the argument at hand, hey? And if you were as pissed off about this as Devon Peters looks to have been, I'm pretty sure you'd let a few things slide too. Emphasis here is obviously ours.

Hello. I am a education student here in Regina and I'm feeling a bit deceived. I feel quite strongly that the Education Students Society needs to represent the views of all of it's members and currently, with regards to the CFS referendum, it is not.

I awoke this morning and found in my inbox an e-mail that was honestly quite shocking. It was an e-mail from a society that I have come to trust for useful professional development, employment and volunteering opportunities. However, this e-mail was purely political in nature. The answer to the question "what tangible services can I can the CFS has provided me as an CFS student?" isn't one that can be answered easily – and certainly not with a "no" as your e-mail asks. This question is huge in scope.  The CFS is responsible for many campaigns that have affected the University of Regina and it has worked to defend our rights at both the provincial and national level as well.

The CFS runs many campaigns. To remind the ESS allow me to list a few; "Education is a Right" – A campaign that fights to lower tuitions and restore federal funding for Universities (including the U of R), "Stop ICR" which lobbies against traditional student loan models that mean that students that have high paying jobs straight out of university pay less interest than lower payed graduates (ie: teachers!),"No means No"- a social justice campaign that seeks to protect and educate every student on the dangers date rape as well as raising awareness in an effort to stop it (nobody dates on the U of R campus though right?), and finally the numerous campaigns across Canada that have resulted in tuition freezes including one that was in place here until only recently. If tuition is allowed to continue to rise then the reality of tens of thousands of dollars of debt for graduating students will be one that will affect me and all education students even more harshly. The CFS is the only organization that has ever had success in Saskatchewan when working for a tuition freeze. That list is also by no means comprehensive. The CFS also works on many on many other issues, notably; Racism –http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2010/03/23/racisms-persists-on-campuses-study-finds/ , Environmentalism http://studentsforsustainability.ca/?c=1 and a commitment to civil rights http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/506413 and http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/campaigns/g20inquiry.php .

"But wait," you might be saying. "What about that SCARY 'NO' CAMPAIGN AD that says that only four press releases total mention Saskatchewan?" Well, fun fact – five minutes of fact-checking turned up an interesting number of articles, a number that suggests to this writer that maybe language that means they won't technically get caught in a lie means more to the "No" campaign than, well, accuracy. I haven't even checked out every single page of media releases yet and I'm having fun already!

But the content of those links is about to become really relevant in a minute – check out what Devon has to say:

Saying that the CFS does nothing at the local level to work with our campus is naive. Ask instead the question instead "What has URSU done with the CFS campaigns that it has had access to?". Perhaps the most obvious way the CFS can influence a campus can be found simply by looking north; The CFS has committed to lobbying and supporting the FNUC – an institution that we interact with every day. They have done this by working nationally for aboriginal interests (see: http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/campaigns/aboriginal.php – in short they wish to raise the cap on funds that help aboriginal students study on our campus) as well as at the provincial level. On top of that they have worked on tirelessly fighting for students rights all the way to the supreme court (http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2009/07/10/cfs-bc-wins-supreme-court-ruling/) and they pledge to continue these actions. The power of this organization is a boon to any effort or issue that the URSU could bring forward. The problem isn't CFS – it's that they haven't had any issues to support.

Ignoring the national framework provided by this organization is ludicrous. It simply doesn't make sense to throw away access to an organization like this. What would replace it? What form of "Local" support does URSU envision? If the URSU intends to pursue it's relationship with the Saskatchewan Students Coalition (which doesn't even have a website that I can link too – isn't that great transparency?), it would be one that might produce exponentially more action – though at the cost of exponentially less weight behind each action! It simply doesn't make sense to support an organization that will do the same job, only worse. 

While it is possible to question any organizations transparency, I feel that URSU is ignoring problems of its own. Despite commitments to "weekly updates" on the workings of URSU the president of the organization has failed to provide a single update since starting is blog in February (http://ursu.ca/blogs/president/category/uncategorized/). Some of the other members of the exec have done better and posted more recently (though each has no more than one post) and one member has failed to post all together.

The URSU and the CFS both present interesting points. However I feel before throwing the ESS's support behind the URSU against the CFS is irresponsible. That being said, supporting the CFS without question is also irresponsible. If the ESS truly feels that the CFS is not representing us or working with us enough then they need to make the activist stand and support their members in telling the CFS that – not by encouraging them to support "the viewpoint of the many U of R students who are against CFS" (ironically the facebook group supporting the CFS has more members – 207 vs 74 at the time of writing, and can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=109446899083852). As a student society composed of many students and ideologies, shouldn't this viewpoint be represented as well?
— 

Devon Peters
Student, Education (LeBac)

University of Regina

Regina, SK

Pretty eloquent, passionate, and in-depth for a first-year education student. Thanks for letting us know about this, Devon, and good work on letting the ESS know what you think. And hey, look, you answered "yes" to the question of "can you name a service they provide?" I guess you showed them that you can think, on top of that.

Know anything about this? Have you received a similar email from your Students' Society? Email carilloneic@gmail.com and let us know.

3 comments

  1. Jody Robson 25 October, 2010 at 14:27

    Today in Econ, Two students in bright yellow NO tshirts representing URSU's stance on CFS told our class to save our $11.00 of CFS fees and buys three beers at the owl (shame on the guy who clapped). really?, what an insult to be told that we need to support the campus bar instead of hear the actually facts from both sides of this.

  2. Thomas Roussin 26 October, 2010 at 00:26

     
    @ Jody  so fugged up! 
     And really, you're better off drinkin' your $ away than being active on campus? What are these guys' definition of value? They don't sound like they have the student movement in mind, that's for sure.
    Its one thing the URSU BOD swamps us in a streamlined marketing frenzy and tells us how to vote (without consulting students) – that's BS – but then they are gonna go ahead and students how to spend OUR $$ ?? (by pissing it away?) Phhh!! Get your hands outta my pockets!
    Why do I get the feeling they have no idea what a union is, how to run one and how to engage their membership?

  3. Jordan Palmer 2 November, 2010 at 20:18

    I would really like to STRESS this fact about the URSU Board of Directors.
    3 board members voted "no" on URSU taking a stance on the issue: The Fine Arts Director, The Aboriginal Director and the FNU director.
    1 board member abstained from voting. (Kinesiolgy Director)
    5 (i believe) board members voted in favour of URSU taking a stance.
    4 board members were absent from this meeting. and the URSU executive also has voting privileges So the vote was 9:3 in favour of taking a stance in the referendum. This was decided AFTER seeing a presentation on the "No" side. The vote "Yes" side was not even invited to the meeting and did not give a presentation.

    I know this because I am the Fine Arts Director.

Comments are closed.