By Keith Capstick
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU)—in conjunction with nine other student unions across Canada—has published a letter requesting reform within the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
The letter requests better minute taking, more access to financial information and bylaws, increased ease of leaving the CFS for member locals, a change to the “closed exclusive nature” of general meetings and a change to “dominance of the voices of staff over those of students.”
“I think it’s fair, I think it’s reasonable. I’m happy with it and we’re here trying to make a good-faith reform effort and I hope that the CFS and CFS members will see that,” said Victoria Morton, the RSU’s vice-president education and co-writer of the letter. “Hopefully so we can make some change leading up to the annual general meeting.”
Canadian Federation of Students—Ontario spokesperson, Rajean Hoilett, doesn’t agree but is looking forward.
“While I don’t agree with the assumptions in the letter, our movement is constantly changing and we are always ripe for growth and improvement,” Hoilett said.
This comes after Sept. 1, when the RSU released a letter analyzing its relationship with the CFS—as requested by a motion in last spring’s RSU annual general meeting. The letter deemed many of the available CFS services on campus ineffective and outlined several “controversies” surrounding the CFS.
When working with other students’ unions, Morton said that above all else she was shocked by the number of other organizations that shared concern with the CFS’ operations. Other notable Students’ unions involved include the University of British Columbia, Cape Breton University, Carleton University and the University of Toronto.
“I was shocked to find out that how many student unions, even the ones that are currently engaged in their campaigns felt concerned about the operations,” Morton said. “The organizations that are signed onto the letter vary from currently have a petition [to leave the CFS] on their campus to people who are very much in favour of the CFS but are just concerned about their operations.”
The CFS represents member local students’ unions across Canada and serves as a way to unite student’s voices on matters of political advocacy, social campaigns and policy. Each year, the RSU pays around $500,000 of students money, collected through a levy embedded in each students tuition payments, to the CFS.