RyeSAC drops CFS referendum

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By Tim Cook

A scheduled referendum about raising the fees Ryerson students pay to the Canadian Federation of Students will be cancelled if RyeSAC president Erin George and the rest of the executive have their way at Thursday’s board of directors meeting.

George said she will issue a motion to have the spring CFS referendum delayed until the fall. The referendum will ask students whether they want to pay $4.70 more in CFS fees to align Ryerson with what other member schools are already paying. RYerson students currently pay $7 a year to the CFS. With the increase, it would be raised to $11.70.

George met with officials from both the national and provincial branches of the CFS March 4 and 6 to discuss delaying the referendum—giving RyeSAC more time to focus on getting the fee hike passed.

After the meeting, chair of the CFS Ontario division Joel Harden sent a letter to RyeSAC’s executive asking it to delay the referendum.

RyeSAC will be busy in the next few weeks with the board of governors and board of directors elections and two other referendums. RyeSAC and the CFS have also been part of an ongoing campaign to fight tuition deregulations at Ryerson.
On march 3, George and president-elect Cory Wright decided to move the referendum to the fall because they didn’t have the resources to deal with everything that was happening. “[CFS was] totally willing to forego a year’s worth of [increased] fees to make sure that we focused on the deregulation campaign,” George said.

Harden said RyeSAC will be obligated to pay the full fees and must eventually have the referendum.

“Now is not the right time,” he said. “It was a strategic decision. It’s of more adamant importance that the deregulation campaign be more successful.”

Atif Ashgar, RyeSAC’s v.p. Administration, who led a poster campaign for students to vote “no” in the referendum, sees delay as a victory.

“The delay is really good because [the referendum] is going to be looked at again,” Ashgar said. “This time it won’t be brought up with a one-sided view.”

George said the “no” campaign had nothing to do with the delay and said her first meeting with Wright happened before Ashgar’s posters were hung.

Board member Rob Haines said moving the referendum to the fall is a waste of RyeSAC resources.

“If we wait until next year,” he said. “We will have to tell [students] all over again.”

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