Canadian Federation of Students meeting unproductive, Selkirk membership conflict continues

| By: Cohen Dyer |

Despite a motion from the Selkirk College Students’ Union (SCSU) asking to terminate its membership, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) voted to continue fighting to keep Selkirk College students at its most recent meeting. On November 17 to 20, delegates from dozens of students’ unions across Canada met in Gatineau, Quebec to discuss the future and the work of the CFS at its National General Meeting. The SCSU submitted two motions, one to have its membership in the Ottawa-based group terminated, and one to compel the CFS to release a detailed report of secret bank accounts.

“I would characterize the CFS as a very frustrating meeting that accomplished very little,” said Shaun Wiskar, Vice-President Student Affiars for the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU). “The meeting opened with a declaration of this being the “New CFS” and that nationally they had come to an impasse with the British Columbia Component. However, when Selkirk asked to leave, they were told they failed to follow proper procedure.”

Students at numerous colleges and universities in British Columbia have been trying to leave the CFS for at least a year. The August 2017 Executive Committee report of the British Columbia Federation of Students includes a long description of this conflict, and says that eight students’ unions in BC have submitted petitions to leave the CFS. Selkirk College students have submitted two petitions to the CFS asking for a vote to leave the group, one in 2016 and one in November 2017, although the CFS has not held a referendum because it claims the SCSU hasn’t remitted its fees.

The National General Meeting seemed to get through little business other than voting down the SCSU’s proposals. Any motions not resolved at a CFS meeting are forwarded to the next meeting held six months later. A few motions will be on the agenda for the first 2018 meeting that were originally served in 2016 and have yet to be dealt with.

“I heard the phrases ‘point of order’, ‘privilege’ and  ‘information’ an extensive amount, this can throw off the meeting in its tracks and can make the NGM a long painful process,” said Derrick Gagnon, also of URSU. “Some of the points brought forward were valid but others seemed like tactic to use up the little time we have in closing plenary. CFS now has motions on the agenda that have remained on for the last two years, again not enough time to get to these motions. These motions will be on the agenda for next years June SGM.”

Representatives from the SCSU who attended the NGM say the meeting failed to achieve its goals. The agenda for the meeting shows that over the four day conference, there were only a small handful of workshops. None of the workshops focused on post-secondary education at the federal level.

“I would say the meeting was a categorical failure for the Canadian Federation of Students,” said Santanna Hernandez, Chairperson of the Selkirk College Students’ Union. “Their (CFS) business is so backlogged that motions submitted in 2016 were still not dealt with at this meeting, and will have to wait until at least 2018.”

“I met with most of the delegates from Selkirk and they were all very professional,” added URSU’s Wiskar. “We formed a close enough bond with them that I created a snapchat filter in solidarity with them. The #imwithselkirk was the UofR’s response to the lack of action by the national body.”