Guest Editorial: Partisan Student Unions

In Editorial, EyeBlog /

Our student union often takes a stance on political issues. The most recent example was the 2011 Ontario Elections Report Card, Canadian Federation of Students material distributed around campus by the Ryerson Students’ Union before the recent provincial election.

Eitan Gilboord tackles this issue in the following editorial. Have a contrasting opinion? Email your 500-to-600-word retort to online@theeyeopener.com and we’ll post it alongside this one.

Tories Might Have Received a ‘D’, but CFS Deserves an ‘F’

By: Eitan Gilboord

Excitement coursed through my veins the day before Election Day as I eagerly waited for the voting booths to open, ready to make a difference in Canada’s political future. All of my hard work on political campaigns thus far was going to be tested, and enthusiasm rushed through my veins in anticipation. Exiting my early morning class with a slight spring in my step, I meandered to the top of some stairs on the campus of my exemplary institution, at which point something interesting caught my eye. A gaggle of my fellow classmates were taking pictures and laughing at the absurdity of a posterboard placed on campus by the Ryerson Student Union as a direct reflection of the Canadian Federation of Students newest campaign. After examining the board and similar promotional material, my excitement mutated into nausea and the spring left my step. “Great, another attack on conservatives and another display of a student union attempting to impose their own beliefs on the public,” I thought.

This latest slight at a vast population of students on campuses across Ontario stems from the “2011 Ontario Elections Report Card”, part of a campaign launched in regards to the provincial election. The campaign started out wonderfully, pursuing the main goal of increasing student vote rates. Banners and signs prominently displayed the date of the election all around campus, and information regarding where and how to vote was made available.

Then a new idea sprouted, and the campaign morphed from one with a relatively innocent, unbiased goal to one that wildly misconstrued information under a thin guise of ‘representing’ students. Basing their information on select few issues, the campaign then graded the provincial leader’s party platforms and posted the results the pivotal day before the election. It should come of no surprise to anyone that the NDP were judged most favourably, with the Green party coming in second, the Liberals in third, and the Tories in dead last.

Hopefully the pretention of CFS and this campaign’s preposterous attempt at trying to influence student’s opinions through a highly abstract ‘grade’ insulted my peers as much as it did me.  Students at some of the top universities in the country are perfectly intellectually capable of determining for themselves who to vote for. There is no need for a giant display to tell students how to vote.

I am so sick and tired of seeing the RSU and CFS pretend that they represent students. It is unbelievable the amount of partisan politics that is disguised and masqueraded around as everyone’s beliefs. A students’ union should represent all students, and the continuing display of personal beliefs being distributed by the CFS is both unprofessional and unethical.

I, along with many other students, got in contact with my student board and voiced dissent. The following day I was sent an unhelpful message saying that all the information was based on a survey sent to the parties. As if to say, “this can’t be a display of partisan politics, because we asked the political parties”. This did not answer the baffling question of why CFS felt as if it was entitled to take the liberty of translating an empirical survey into abstruse letter ratings. Although I am sure a rigorously-tested algorithm was used to determine these ratings, I would imagine it is still a little (or a lot) biased.

It is massively inappropriate for a student government to tell me the best person to vote for. You don’t know me, you don’t know my beliefs, and don’t ever pretend like you are trying to represent me. CFS, in the future just try to be fair and represent everyone, you’re a university student board not a preacher.

Comments

  1. Eitan, the CFS report card was largely, if not entirely, on student issues, particularly tuition and university funding. Why shouldn’t the CFS inform students of the parties’ stances on those issues and encourage them to act accordingly?

  2. I largely disagreed with the Report Card, but only because I felt the Libs gave the most to education(which is what the report card was based on).

    The process in which the CFS does the report cards is actually pretty good. They make their preliminary results based on all the reports of the parties, then they contact the parties with the grades. Parties can then influence their grade by explaining their logic and talking about how they plan to improve their plan, or by making an announcement that negates CFS’ concerns.

  3. Eitan, welcome to Ryerson, where the Liberal agenda rules, and has ruled, the RSU for a long time. Even when I was a board member, if you brought up anything contrary to that agenda, the majority party of the RSU not only shot you down by vilified you.

    The only way you will find satisfaction in your student union is to get your friends together and run. But be forewarned, the CFS will bring out its army and attempt to make you the worse villain in the history of this university.

    1. I hear horror stories at York and UofT about the CFS and the student unions rigging the elections, think there is any truth to that?

  4. I would love to see some good investigative stories on both issues raised by Ex-Board Member and Concerned Student. Take on the challenge Eye!! It’ll be fun!

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