All Posts Tagged With: "Transparency"
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 group seems distracted and afraid of transparency
What do the War of 1812, the Israel-Gaza conflict and bottled water have in common? They are causes the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) decided, on the closing evening of the semi-annual general meeting (AGM), to campaign about. How odd for organization that’s supposed to be focused on student issues.
During that Nov. 30 meeting in Ottawa, the CFS voted to organize letter-writing campaigns against the Harper government’s representation of 1812 and its opposition to Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations. This came after hours of debate on transparency and openness—two areas the CFS would do well to improve on. Some of the measures that would improve openness and transparency were, unfortunately, rejected.
The Canadian Federation of Students, funded by mandatory student fees from dozens of universities and colleges, is meant to represent students on issues like tuition. The fact that these non-student (albeit important) issues take up so much of their time shows the CFS may have lost its way. Worse, students may have no idea what the CFS is up to because it seems to fear transparency.
Most student unions aren’t transparent about your cash
Details on student fees—that ever-growing list of mandatory payments tacked onto tuition bills, mainly by student unions—isn’t easy to find.
Students are often outraged when they do find out—often in their fourth year—that they’ve paid dozens of fees to causes they don’t support.
That’s why students at the University of Alberta recently offered a presentation called “Students’ Union Fees Used to Spread Hate,” during which the speakers argued that many students are unwittingly paying mandatory fees that go to the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, which supports the always-controversial—they say hateful—Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
Final two contenders asked to give a public speech, take questions from the audience
Transparency is a funny thing to navigate for any public university stuck in that semi-autonomous but government-operated grey zone. Especially if you’re trying to be globally competitive, as some Canadian institutions are. When and how a university attempts to be more open can be an interesting thing to watch, because of course no university has to do such things, but sometimes they do—and it makes it all the more glaring when they turtle up.
For example, at the University of British Columbia, the selection of a new Dean of Education has been remarkably open. Later this month, the final two candidates will make a public pitch to interested observers as to their vision for the faculty, and take questions from the audience.
Last year, when choosing a new Dean of Arts, the university conducted an election for which student would sit on the selection committee. They also let everyone know when the list of candidates was narrowed to three.
In this case, it’s good publicity for the university, it’s a way to consult the community in a key decision without giving over control—and it’s an approach other universities should emulate.
In New Zealand, the largest national student lobbying organization doesn’t particularly like opening it’s meetings to the media. There excuses sound oddly familiar to me too! ‘We need safe space’ and/or ‘not enough time to think about it’. Funny how students’ union need to think about transparency no matter where they are. I like the [...]
In New Zealand, the largest national student lobbying organization doesn’t particularly like opening it’s meetings to the media.
There excuses sound oddly familiar to me too!
‘We need safe space’ and/or ‘not enough time to think about it’. Funny how students’ union need to think about transparency no matter where they are.
I like the writing style of The Salient (one of the reasons that I read it every week) especially the style of Conrad Reyner who’s blogging student politics for the paper. To quote him on why media coverage is suddenly an issue there: “I assumed it’s because media cant be fucked going to these events, so there was no need.”
In other “it’s the same elsewhere” news, off-campus bars aren’t popular with universities.