EYE-NALYSIS: CANADIAN FEDERATION OF STUDENTS

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By Jen Gerson

The war of ideology rages on at RyeSAC as President Dave MacLean pushed through a motion to defederate from the Canadian Federation of Students.

To the right:MacLean, Derek Isber, vice president finance and services and Cristina Ribeiro, vice president student life and events. To the left: Rebecca Rose, vice president education.

During the last RyeSAC election, MacLean and his posse took over the council from CFS-friendly, anti-WTO/IMF/FTAA/NAFTA lefties Ken Marciniec et al, leaving Rose the only avowed activist on the executive.

It was a close race but MacLean broke through with support from the engineering and business students. CFS has organized and participated in protests and campaigns aimed at everything from anti-globalization and peace movements to the anti-poverty protests.

In the past, students have even been arrested and charged after attending Ontario Coalition Against Poverty protests under a Ryerson banner. During the RyeSAC debates last year, MacLean stated that he had no interest in splitting from the CFS and, in fact, supported its aims. Yet on the night of the election, right after the results had come in, rumours started flying that MacLean was already planning a defed motion.

In 2002 a RyeSAC report came out stating that many students didn’t like being associated with a group of “freedom fighters.” Many said they would prefer that the council try and promote the image of the school so grads would have an easier time finding jobs after graduation. MacLean will be arguing for defederation on that tangent.

“There’s all sort of different protests that have given Ryerson quite the negative image. Ryerson’s leaders arrested. We’re talking about a university that’s looking to elevate itself to a professional image. It doesn’t help us to get that professional image when we’re doing these things,” said MacLean.

Every student pays roughly $13 per year to the CFS. In return, students get access to TravelCuts – a CFS-owned travel bureau-the international student identification card and a number of student discounts. We also get a lot of nifty signs to post on the student activist bulletin board in the Podium building.

Being a part of a nation-wide student lobby has certainly helped RyeSAC organize with other student councils to negotiate with the TTC and GO Transit for discounts. They also claim their protesting was instrumental in capping tuition fees this year (puzzling that such a supposedly powerful special interest group should have so little luck freezing the fees during non-election years).

Other than that, the CFS’s contribution to the lives of Ryerson students who aren’t a part of – The Student Movement’ is arguable. So, will RyeSAC defederate? Probably not. RyeSAC’s constitution with the CFS demands that in order to separate, the council must meet quorum for any referendum to be valid. In other words, 5 per cent of the student population must cast a ballot.

A 1,000 student turnout is a lot to ask from a population that can barely drag 1,600 to the polls for a RyeSAC election, which makes one wonder if disbanding RyeSAC is a more apt debate.

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