By John Shmuel
They may have lost a crucial vote last week, but several members of the Ryerson Students’ Union are still confident they’ll convince students to sever ties with the Canadian Federation of Students.
The vote, held at the RSU’s monthly board meeting last Tuesday, proposed that “significant RSU staff resources and funds be allocated for work on the defederation process [separating from the CFS].”
By the end of the five-hour meeting, the vote finished in a 12-12 tie. Unlike most board decisions, the vote was held by secret ballot at the request of RSU President Nora Loreto.
“It failed by virtue of it being a tie,” said Ibrahim (Abe) Snobar, RSU VP Student Life and Events, who moved the motion. “The fact that it was a tie is living proof this referendum should happen.”
He mentioned two board members, Henna Khawja and Taras Koulik, who he said would have voted for defederation but left the meeting early.
“Had the vote taken place 10 minutes earlier, it would’ve passed,” he said.
In order to leave the CFS, a school has to collect the signatures of 10 per cent of the student body, submit them to the federation, and then hold a referendum six months later.
Prior to the failure of Snobar’s motion, the Ryerson Commerce Society started collecting the signatures, and they’re still at it.
Abdullah Snobar, president of the RCS and Abe’s younger brother, said they have gathered 1,500 signatures out of the 2,100 they need.
“I’m confident we’ll have the amount we need by the deadline,” he said.
“A lot of Ryerson students were locked out of the meeting,” he added. “A lot of people who weren’t part of the RSU were allowed in, while Ryerson students, who pay dues to the RSU, couldn’t even get in.”
The meeting was packed with CFS supporters, who applauded whenever anyone spoke in favour of the federation.
Abe also felt members who supported the defederation process were intimidated.
“There were a lot of members of the board who had things to say, but they were intimidated by the crowd, many of whom weren’t Ryerson students,” he said.
CFS supporters believe the majority of Ryerson students favour the RSU’s continued membership.
Nora Loreto, president of the RSU, said about 3,500 signatures have been collected from Ryerson students who are pro-CFS.
“I’ve been on the ground talking to the students we should be representing, and no one thought we should be wasting our money on leaving the Canadian Federation of Students,” Loreto said.
The CFS comprises more than 80 universities and colleges from across Canada. It has helped bring about tuition freezes, student Metropass discounts and other cost-saving measures for students.
However, the CFS has been accused of mismanaging its funds (the RSU sends the CFS $250,000 annually, all collected from student dues). There have also been accusations of corruption, and unlawful interference in the election processes of some campuses.
However, not all students are aware of the negative accusations against the CFS.
“I haven’t heard anything about the whole debate,” said Anthony Salvador, a third-year commerce student. “I think they should be doing more to get this out to us considering it’s such a huge issue.”
Abe stresses that’s what his motion is about. “The motion I presented to the board was not to defederate, it was a motion to allow students to make a decision on their own. I wanted this process to begin so students could reassess the pros and cons of the CFS,” he said.
Snobar feels the decision at the board meeting on Tuesday was too close to put the issue to rest.
“Don’t be surprised if there’s a referendum in six months,” he said.