All Posts Tagged With: "Canadian Federation of Students"
Rick Ross gets cancelled but Tyga performs
A hip-hop concert cancelled earlier this month in Ottawa is fueling debate about which performers student union money should fund and whether artists’ freedom of expression has been silenced.
Pandemonium, the annual year-end show subsidized by the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), was to be headlined by rapper Rick Ross on April 9. But numerous students from both universities urged their student unions to pull out because they said Ross’ recent lyrics glorify date rape. SFUO and CUSA eventually pulled the plug and the show was cancelled. Shortly afterward, athletics company Reebok announced it was dropping Ross.
It’s not just an issue in Ottawa. At Harvard University, a performance by the rapper Tyga went ahead Saturday despite an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures demanding a student board cancel it. Petitioners said his lyrics in the song “Bitch Betta Have My Money,” are “explicitly and violently misogynistic.” Tyga performed the song on the weekend, “despite all the haters.”
Canadian Federation of Students head talks transparency
The Canadian Federation of Students is a national network of student unions known best for its lobbying to make post-secondary education more affordable. The group is funded mostly through mandatory fees tacked on to students’ tuition bills whether they like it or not. The CFS is sometimes accused of not being transparent or worth the cost. Although it’s possible to leave the group through a petition and referendum, the CFS won’t let members go without a fight. In a 2010 referendum at the University of Guelph, 73 per cent of students voted to leave but the CFS never recognized the vote, resulting in at least $407,000 in legal bills for Guelph students. This month when it became clear the local student union was planning to give up and settle, the university stepped in and surveyed students, who once again indicated—70 per cent to 29 per cent—that they want to stop paying the fees. Carleton University Students’ Association may be the next student union to attempt to leave. Adam Awad, whose term as CFS National Chairperson ends in June, sat down for a chat during a recent trip to Toronto.
Student union, CFS want administrators to butt out
More than 70 per cent of University of Guelph undergraduates who responded to an unusual survey last week from their administration said they were opposed to paying student fees to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). That’s not surprising considering 73 per cent of voters were opposed when asked in a 2010 referendum.
Still, don’t expect the CFS, a student lobbying organization, to accept either poll anytime soon. Despite what appeared to be a strong mandate to stop funding the CFS in the 2010 referendum, the group has never accepted the result, arguing that there was something fishy about the vote.
And the CFS has support. Guelph’s Central Student Association (CSA)—the very student union that ran the referendum and vigorously defended it to the tune of $407,000 in legal bills as of August 2012—has switched sides and says it would rather stick with the CFS than fight on. That could mean paying roughly $250,000 per year retroactively plus $250,000 annually going forward.
What students are talking about today (April 3rd)
1. The HBO series Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally more than one million times within 24 hours of its premiere, according to TorrentFreak. That smashed the previous record, which Heroes set in 2008 with 144,663 peer-to-peer downloaders. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly that, while they’re against piracy, “it is a compliment of sorts.” This will, however, worry cable TV providers. A new report says 250,000 Canadians have recently ditched cable.
2. A Mount Saint Vincent University billboard encouraging people to honour the women in their lives shows three smiling men in suits but, surprisingly, no women. The poorly-planned advertisement was put up to promote the Women’s Wall of Honour project, a tribute that will be erected on campus, reports Halifax’s Chronicle-Herald.
3. A Facebook group at the University of Guelph with more than 100 members is pressuring the campus’ Central Students’ Association to honour the will of the 73.5 per cent of student voters who voted to leave the Canadian Federation of Students a few years back. Instead of doing what students mandated, the CSA plans to join the CFS in suing the university for not collecting CFS fees. “By suing the University, the money will ultimately be coming out of students’ pockets,” writes Samuel Mosonyi at TheCannon.ca. “The CSA has endorsed the Freeze the Fees Campaign, which calls on the Board of Governors to reduce tuition fees. Why would you sue students and make us pay even higher fees?” It’s a good question. The previous lawsuit cost hundreds of thousands, this one would cost money too, and the fees would add up to hundreds of thousands. Meanwhile, Carleton University students are debating whether to stick with or dump the CFS.
4. A University of British Columbia student who went through U.S. customs in Quebec carrying eight condoms and sexy lingerie says she was interrogated for eight hours, accused of being a sex worker and warned she could be banned from the U.S. for five years, reports Metro News. Later in that same month, she went through U.S. customs again on the way to Aruba and admitted an affair with a married man. On her way back, she was denied entry and was told needs a visa to enter.
5. “We’ve paid the tens of thousands of dollars for our tuition. We’ve paid hundreds in ancillary fees,” writes Cameron Michael Smith in Western’s The Gazette. “Now, finally, the end of the money pit is in sight. Graduation represents a freedom from the financial burden that university represents—but not before they have one last good grope of our wallets.” He’s not happy about paying $60 for “academic regalia,” and $10.95 for a grad cap. “Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t impose a penalty fee just for completing your degree,” he adds. Actually, they do charge graduation fees at some schools. At the University of Guelph it’s $35.35 or $95.35 if you apply late. Jerks!
What students are talking about today (March 27th)
1. Students at Trent University are boycotting Aramark, the corporate campus food provider. They say it’s all about “food justice.” Sustainable Trent and others have given out hundreds of free meals as part of their campaign. “With nutritious vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and even local grass-fed meat options, this food is a much-needed remedy for students who struggle daily to meet their needs with Aramark’s limited and often processed selection at its cafeteria,” according to The Arthur student newspaper. This apparently isn’t just about food, but about “the tar sands, the prison industrial complex, and weapons manufacturing.” Who knew?
2. Toronto Police have arrested a 19-year-old from Maple, Ont. following two alleged “indecent acts” at York University. Police report that the same thing happened twice: on March 13 and March 21 the male student, visiting from another school, was in a lab and staring at a female when things turned, umm, indecent. Police say there may have been other incidents. The Excalibur student newspaper reports that York administration had not sent out a security bulletin email to students, as of March 25. There wasn’t a bulletin posted on its security bulletins website either, as of noon today.
It’s imperfect, but successfully fights oppression and tuition
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is the best! By that I mean the CFS is the best thing students have on a national level. The CFS is the largest student association in Canada, representing more than 500,000 students in more than 80 colleges and universities.
The CFS isn’t perfect, but it more than deserves the membership fees our Carleton University Students’ Association currently provides. As students, it would be unwise to leave this nationwide organization, as could happen after a referendum that has been proposed. Here’s why I think we should remain united with the CFS.
In the early 1990s, the average undergraduate tuition in Canada was $1,464. In 2012, the average was $5,138. What’s my source? It’s an easy-to-read and informative publication from the CFS. Such accessible research and publications are one of the benefits of a dedicated national group.
It’s ineffective, undemocratic and wastes money
During a recent Carleton University Student Association meeting, it was announced that a petition for a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) will circulate. The potential savings for Carleton students are huge: just under $500,000 in student fees that are sent off campus annually to CFS National and CFS-Ontario.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the CFS, it’s an organization that collects millions in membership fees from Canadian university and college student each year in exchange for supposedly providing services and lobbying the provincial and federal governments. Its main goal is the elimination of tuition fees. In my opinion, Carleton should leave the CFS because the organization is ineffective, undemocratic and doesn’t appear to be careful with student money. Let me explain.
What students are talking about today (March 18th)
1. Remember before the last federal election when everyone was sharing that little website with the photo of Stephen Harper stroking a cat, plus pages and pages of one-liners about nefarious acts our PM was accused of committing? After Shitharperdid.com amassed 4.1 million in three days in 2011, we didn’t hear much about it again. Well, now it’s back in another form. Vancouver Comedian Sean Devlin, one of the site’s founders, is joining up with improv group The Sunday Service, Brigette DePape (the STOP Harper sign wielding page) and others for the Shitharperdid.com Live! Comedy Tour. Tonight it’s at the University of British Columbia and more than 350 people have told Facebook they plan to attend. Later it stops at Emily Carr University, Simon Fraser University and Douglas College.
2. Harper may have done some shit, but the New Democrats’ budget, released Monday, doesn’t offer an exciting alternative. In fact, it will only appeal to you if you’re a real person. “Real things for real people” has five prongs: better public transit, roads and bridges, fair pensions, health care for veterans, jobs for young people and small business investment, but it’s rather short on details. The “jobs for young people” section says the NDP would launch “a $500 top-up to the tax credit for small- and medium-sized employers who create jobs for Canadians aged 18-30.” Big deal.
Obama’s odds, no-money-down tuition, Halo 4 & a drug bust
1. It’s election day in America and things are looking good for President Barack Obama. Statistician Nate Silver, one of the most trusted seers of election results in America, Tweeted Monday that the latest polling suggests a very close election, but that Obama has a 91 per cent chance of winning the electoral college, which would give him another four years in office.
2. If it were up to student newspaper editors, Obama would win. The Daily Campus at Southern Methodist University is the only high-profile student paper to give Romney its endorsement.
3. More details are out from Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Glen Murray on his no-money-down post-secondary plan. Here it is. In partnership with private lenders, university students would be allowed to borrow up to $7,000 per year, roughly the cost of tuition and fees. Repayment and interest would start after graduation based on income. Loans would be interest free in the first 12 months after grad. The Canadian Federation of Students is opposed, naturally, saying it would “saddle youth with a lifetime of debt.”
Nitro cocktails, a botched pick-up attempt & a Toronto killer
1. The Peak student newspaper at Simon Fraser University is warning students against cocktails containing liquid nitrogen, which is added by some daring bartenders who want to impress drinkers with the ensuing cloud of vapour. The reason for the warning: The Daily Mail newspaper says a British student who chugged two “Nitro Jagermeisters” ended up with a perforated stomach. Ouch.
2. “It wasn’t exactly the most successful pick-up attempt,” writes Julian Uzielli of Western’s University’s The Gazette. A student briefly lost consciousness and was taken to hospital last Wednesday after being injured in The Spoke pub. “He basically tried to pick up a girl really high in the air, and she fell on him, and he fell backwards and he hit his head,” student Tony Ayala told the newspaper.
3. People in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood, not far from Ryerson University, are frightened by a killer who stabbed a woman, in her 50s, early on Tuesday. Toronto police released this security camera footage of the victim being followed around 7 a.m. The suspect is a white male.
Big Bird, full buses in B.C., hackers & Lena Dunham
1. In a poll, two-thirds of CNN viewers concurred that Romney came out on top. Romney didn’t win with the under-12 demographic, however, as he said he’d cut funding to PBS, home of Big Bird, because public television is not worth borrowing money from China to fund. Luckily for him, children can’t vote.
2. Transit users in Victoria, B.C. are being passed up by full buses more than twice often as predicted by B.C. Transit before they implemented “real-time tracking.” The agency suggests post-secondary schools should stagger class start times to reduce the problem. I have a feeling this isn’t just a frustration for B.C. students. Am I right?
3. Hackers called Team GhostShell have claimed responsibility for breaking into more than 120,000 computer accounts at dozens of universities to protest what they see as high-cost and low-quality higher education. Sites at the University of British Columbia and McMaster University were on the list of what’s called “ProjectWestWind.” Identity Finder, a data-protection company, found that more than 35,000 e-mail addresses and thousands of usernames were compromised. Most of the sites were the type made by professors themselves, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Dangerous drinking, First World Problems & free textbooks
1. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to report this, but public safety is at risk (seriously). A University of Tennessee student was hospitalized with a dangerously high blood-alcohol level after his fraternity, which has now been suspended until at least 2015, allegedly gave him an alcohol enema. Students call this “butt-chugging.” The apparent victim denies it, but such things have happened. At least one student died this way in 2005, according to Inside Higher Education.
2. This could be a game-changer. California’s governor has signed a law that will make more than 50 core textbooks free to download. Hard copies will cost just $20. I’ll bet it’s only a matter of time before this idea catches on here.
3. A Queen’s Journal columnist has explored the trend of #FirstWorldProblems after a life-changing event that happened while waiting in line with a friend for a latte. “We were informed that our Starbucks rewards no longer included free flavour shots,” writes Trilby Goouch. “As regular flavour shot users, we were both a little rattled by this new information.” First World Problems indeed.
London shooting, Regina theft and Toronto mega-project
1. Students at Western University in London, Ont. had their homecoming weekend marred by the shooting death of 21-year-old Terrell Johnson off-campus early Sunday. A 28-year-old man was also taken to hospital. Joshua Carter, 22, is charged with second-degree murder.
2. Hannim Nur, the student who resigned from her post as president of the University of Regina’s Students’ Union (URSU), did so because she stole $700 of student money from the Canadian Federation of Students Saskatchewan by forging signatures on cheques when she was Chair. A statement from CFS-S says that the money was repaid and that they’ve updated procedures to reduce the chance of it happening again. Questions remain as to why Nur continued to work at URSU after she admitted the forgery to CFS.
3. A proposed mega-development on King Street in Toronto will house a whole lot of people in three 80-story condo towers. It will also include two museums and facilities for nearby OCAD University. The design is by Frank Gehry and the funding is from theatre king David Mirvish. Tweeters have compared the design to a tipped-over recycling bin, but Edward Keenan of The Grid points out that Gehry’s early sketch of the now-loved Art Gallery of Ontario once raised eyebrows too.
Students should be outraged about this misuse of funds
Quebec student leaders and their Ontario band of brothers are hoping to light a fire under students in Canada’s most populous province.
And indeed, Ontarian students have a good reason to be outraged. But it’s not that they’re being asked to shoulder more of the cost of their educations, as the student leaders would have them believe.
Instead, they should be outraged that their money is funding a working vacation for people like Quebec protest leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
Premier Christy Clark announces plan to forgive more loans, provide more help with repayment
B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced her government’s plan to help students repay their provincial loans. Effective July 1, students with incomes above the previous limit to receive relief will qualify for reduced repayments, the Province reports.
“The new repayment assistance plan is based on the borrowers ability to pay, meaning that income, family size and student loan debt-load are all accounted for in the eligibility process,” Clark told reporters, quoted by the Province. “Our goal is to replace previous programs that were intended to help students manage their loans.”
The changes will help students in two stages, Clark explained. The first will help students pay the interest on their debt, while the second will focus on paying down the principal on their loans.
Average student debt in B.C. is more than $27,000 after the completion of a four-year program, the highest of any province west of the Maritimes, according to the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia. The organization says tuition fees in the province have more than doubled since 2001.
Runaway compensation is hurting students
When students across the country united for the Canadian Federation of Students’ National Day of Action to protest tuition fees on Feb. 1, tiny Brandon University’s student union did their part.
They gathered students, foisted placards and yelled into a megaphone. The message was clear.
Drop fees. Drop fees. Drop fees.
It seems strange then, that last fall when the Brandon University Faculty Association went on strike for the second time in three years, the student union wasn’t so bothered about being asked to pay more for their professors— who make up most of the university’s costs.
Protests underway from coast to coast
Today, students from Memorial University of Newfoundland to the University of British Columbia are participating in the National Day of Action organized by the Canadian Federation of Students.
Through marches and on social media, they’re promoting the idea that Education is a Right.
Their explicit demands are for lower tuition fees, less student debt and more public funding.
The CFS says that the average student with debt owes $25,000 by graduation and that public funding has dropped from 81 per cent of operating costs of universities 20 years ago to 57 per cent today—all while tuition has risen from 14 per cent of operating funding to more than 35 per cent.
In other words, students are paying more of their own costs for university than ever before, which makes it difficult for low and middle-income students to get through school and then pay off debts.
Peggy Nash, a candidate for the New Democratic Party’s leadership has already tweeted in solidarity and provided a link to her Plan to make Post-Secondary Education Accessible.
In Newfoundland, which already has among the lowest tuition anywhere, conservative Premier Kathy Dunderdale attended a National Day of Action event this morning and said that, during her lifetime, she’d like to see students’ first degrees paid for by the province, reports VOCM radio.
Third Quebec student union to file suit against national lobby group
The Concordia Graduate Students’ Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the results of a referendum to leave the Canadian Federation of Students recognized.
The referendum, held last spring, saw students vote 456 to 148 in favour of leaving the organization but the vote, which was conducted without CFS support, has not been recognized by the Federation.
The two Concordia suits share several similarities, in both cases the CFS refused to allow referendums , in part, on the grounds that the student unions had years worth of unpaid membership fees. According to the GSA’s motion to institute proceedings, the CFS claimed they were owed $200,000. According to the motion, a lawyers letter sent to the GSA six weeks prior made no mention of an outstanding debt, as well, they argue that if the GSA had a debt dating back to 1994, it would have been claimed before March 2010 and would have been mentioned at a CFS general meeting.
Like the Concordia Student Union’s suit, the GSA attempts to establish a pattern of bad faith by the CFS when it comes to referendums. They also claim that students’ Quebec charter rights were violated and are seeking $100,000 in damages.
The CFS is now facing five lawsuits in Quebec. In addition to the three suits filed by student unions the lobby group is also being sued by its former Quebec branch and that organization’s former landlord.
The only CFS member in Quebec not currently suing the organization is student union at Dawson College, a CEGEP, a referendum was supposed to take place there but it still hasn’t happened.
The GSA and CFS will be in court on May 20.
Beyond Toronto and Ottawa national lobby group doesn’t pack a lot of punch
The CFS trumpets that they have 500,000 members from over 80 student unions. But here are the facts:
- The CFS has no healthy, stable relationship with any universities in Alberta or Quebec
- The CFS has no real undergraduate representation in Alberta, Quebec, Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick
- There are no student unions with over 10,000 full-time students west of Manitoba represented by the CFS
When you break down the 83 “Locals” of the CFS, you find the amount of support they have from decently-sized universities is rather small, except in Toronto and Ottawa. That those two cities are the media and political capitals of Canada can explain why the CFS still gets the attention they do, but outside of those two bubbles, the CFS doesn’t pack a lot of punch.
To start with, let’s see who comprises those 83 Locals. Nineteen are colleges. Another 11 have undergraduate populations of less than 3,000. This is not to besmirch the good people of the Saint Paul University Students’ Association (Local 85) and other small institutions, but these locals are never going to carry a lot of weight.
Then, you add in the fact that at many schools, there are multiple student unions. At University of Toronto alone, there is the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union, the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students of the University of Toronto, the University of Toronto Students’ Union and the University of Toronto at Mississauga Students’ Union. That may be five locals, but it’s just one school. So let’s lump them together.
Then, there’s Prince Edward Island undergraduates, Saskatchewan undergraduates, Guelph undergrdautes, Concordia students, Post-Graduates at McGill, Graduate students at Calgary, SFU students, and UVic students. All of them have voted to defederate (or in the case of Saskatchewan, never legally joined in the first place), yet all are listed by the CFS as members on their website. And while the CFS can use plenty of semantic or legal arguments to claim they are still part of the organization, you can’t claim they are happy, active members.
When you consider all that, which student unions at moderately-sized universities are left? And which of them represent students at large, national universities? We’ll go province by province, noting when the CFS only represents graduate students, and bolding any school that is either the largest in its province, or has more than 15,000 full-time students (as measured by the AUCC).
- British Columbia: UBC-Okanagan, Capilano, Kwantlen, Vancouver Island University, and Thompson Rivers.
- Alberta: None
- Saskatchewan: U of Regina, U of Saskatchewan Grad. Students
- Manitoba: U of Manitoba, U of Winnipeg
- Ontario: Carleton, Lakehead, Laurentian, Nipissing, U of Ottawa, Ryerson, U of Toronto, Trent, U of Windsor, York, Brock Grad. Students, Guelph Grad. Students, McMaster Grad. Students, UWO Grad. Students, Wilfrid Laurier Grad Students
- Quebec: None
- New Brunswick: U of New Brunswick Grad. Students
- Prince Edward Island: UPEI Grad. Students
- Nova Scotia: None
- Newfoundland: Memorial
Now yes, this list misses out on plenty of small schools, and plenty of schools the CFS argues are still part of their organization. But this is the backbone of the CFS now. And outside of Toronto and Ottawa, it’s not particularly strong.
The “Canadian Federation of University Students from Ottawa and Toronto Along With College and Graduate Students From Across the Land” might not roll off the tongue—but it’s probably the most accurate description of the CFS as it currently stands.
Motion alleges chairperson ‘failed to consult’ with executive members on her activities
For this week’s issue of The Manitoban, I reported on a motion that was brought forward to impeach Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba chairperson Alanna Makinson by CFS-Manitoba Local 96, the University of Manitoba Graduate Students Association (UMGSA) at a Feb. 10 Special General Meeting.
The motion alleged Makinson “failed to consult with executive members with respect to her activities in relation to the operations of the Manitoba CFS,” according to a copy of the meeting’s agenda obtained by the Manitoban:
“The motion also claimed that Makinson had failed to communicate in the official languages of Canada, violating National CFS Bylaw 13; had not met with all member locals on their campuses, ‘which resulted in a lack of participations and disconnect between member locals within Manitoba CFS’; and that issues of communication, meeting timelines and deliverables, and violations of the bylaws ‘were brought forward to the attention of the chairperson by phone, email and at provincial executive meetings without resolution’,” reported The Manitoban.
The motion was defeated, with only two of the five CFS Manitoba locals, UMGSA and Association etudiante du College universitaire de Saint-Boniface (AECUSB), supporting the motion.
Makinson told The Manitoban she was “taken aback” when she saw the motion, and felt that “there were many, many opportunities built in through our democratic structures, the provincial executive, to direct any concerns that they might have.”
UMGSA president Meaghan Labine explained that the motion was not meant to be “hostile”, but an attempt to resolve concerns she says UMGSA had brought up on numerous occasions, stressing that they were primarily concerned with holding provincial staff accountable.
“This isn’t a high school club. You have to treat people professionally and set clear mandates and communicate effectively [ . . . ]” said Labine,.
“We need to see results for our graduate students; there’s limited time, there’s limited resources, and you only get a year to be effective.”
A motion was also brought forward by the graduate students association for the creation of a development and review committee to examine the performance of provincial office staff and full-time chairperson, which was tabled for further review by the provincial executive committee.
While Makinson told The Manitoban that CFS Manitoba had no problem with conducting performance reviews, she felt “they definitely need to be done in a proper way.”
“We don’t want to create an attacking environment; we don’t want to create a hostile environment,” Makinson said.