CFS recommends policy changes after critical joint letter

Debate CFS RSU

The CFS and RSU debated some of the reformed issues last month. (Kevin Siazon)

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is recommending some policy changes a month after a joint letter from 10 universities’ students’ unions was released calling for reform of the organization.

In their Oct. 6 meeting, the CFS National Executive approved motions that could make it easier for member students’ unions to leave the organization, and to post audited financial statements online. These have been ongoing, contentious issues this semester and in years past. The motions are up for ratification at the CFS National General Meeting (NGM) in November.

In order to leave the CFS, a student union needs to first collect signatures from 20 per cent of their membership. The new motion would lower the amount of signatures needed to 15 per cent.

“A lot of the folks that sit on the national executive have been around for a number of years and have been around for those conversations and thought that it was pertinent to begin to take action on some of the things we were hearing from our members,” said Ontario chairperson for the CFS, Rajean Hoilett.

The Ryerson Students’ Union vice-president education, Victoria Morton, called the recommendations “a great first step.”

In the joint letter released on Sept. 19, the 10 students’ unions  — including the RSU — raised concern over the ability to access information and the “overly burdensome process” they have to go through to leave the Federation, among other things.

Following the release of the letter, the signatories, along with a few more student unions, sent the CFS a package of 13 proposed motions. The CFS recommended that two of the motions dealing with audited financial documents and lowering the petition threshold be put forward at the NGM.

While Morton is pleased that the CFS acknowledged some of their proposals, she said that all 13 motions don’t necessarily have to be put forward as bylaws in order to be implemented. She also said that the member unions “watered down” many of the motions to make them more palatable to CFS brass. They still plan on bringing forward all 13 motions in November.

“I hope that this doesn’t become some sort of political negotiation,” Morton said.

The letter followed a report released by the RSU Sept. 4, which outlined the RSU’s concerns with the governance of the CFS and the feasibility of the Federation.

While Morton said that the recommendations are a good start, she said that it doesn’t change the perceived ineffectiveness of the CFS and the lack of value of the organization’s services.

“This isn’t the end of CFS reform,” Morton said.

With files from David Greenberg.

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