The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has released a joint letter signed by 10 post-secondary student unions from across the country, voicing the student governments’ dissatisfaction with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
The letter follows a report released by the RSU on Sept. 4 that formally evaluated and criticized the value of the union’s relationship with the CFS.
Student movement ‘Done better’
The letter states that the union’s feel they “can no longer accept or support” the governance structure of the CFS. The signatories represent almost 200,000 students from across the country.
“We do recognize the power of a student movement, but we just need it to be done better,” said Victoria Morton, RSU vice-president education.
According to the letter, the 10 schools plan to put forward several motions at the CFS’s annual general meeting in November.
“We just wanted to put it all on paper collaboratively so that nobody can say we haven’t tried to go to [the CFS] for help in advance,” said Morton.
Concerns about meeting attendance
Morton said the signatories decided to write the letter after poor attendance by student unions and general dissatisfaction among those present at the CFS’s national general meeting this summer. According to Morton, 26 unions expressed interest in the letter. However, she said that some were too fearful of litigation or other possible repercussions to sign.
“I hope that now that the letter is out [and] someone’s taken the big first step, more student unions will feel comfortable in voicing their concerns,” said Morton.
— The Ryersonian (@theryersonian) September 19, 2016
Issues raised in the letter
- Proper minutes are not taken during meetings, and are not later posted online
- Voices of staff dominate over the voices of student
- No space for “dissent” or for “constructive criticism”
- Accessing information is described as extremely difficult to do
- The “overly burdensome process” locals must undergo in order to leave the federation
- The “closed, exclusive nature” of general meetings
What is the CFS?
- Over 80 schools are members of the CFS, both colleges and universities
- The organization is essentially a means to pool resources to gain political clout
- In their 30-page report, the RSU criticized the federation for failing to fulfill its mandate to lobby the government for lower tuition fees