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CSA and CFS taking legal action against the University administration.

Friday, April 4, 2014

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  • Pay the CFS to help you freeze tuition fees.

    Pay the CFS to help you freeze tuition fees.

Written by Alice Lin

On March 26, 2014, the CSA officially took legal action against the University of Guelph’s administration on a case regarding the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the CFS-O. In previous years, students have voted in a referendum in 2010, where in both cases over 70% of the votes were in favour of leaving the CFS and CFS-o’s membership though were both successfully appealed by CFS and the CFS-O in court.

Despite the overwhelming evidence arising from both of the referendums where Guelph undergraduates voted against being a part of the membership, the CSA concluded that it is finally better off to settle with CFS and the CFS-O than to continue on. Thus earlier this year, CSA requested that the University continue to collect student fees for the CFS membership and was denied, pointing out that it was something that majority of the student population did not wish to be a part of. The CFS collects over $250,000 in student fees annually.

It became official at the end of this March, that the CSA alongside with the CFS and CFS-O, joined together to take legal action against the University of Guelph for withholding membership fees collected previously, and also for refusing to continue to collect such fees. An official statement was released by the CSA stating that the University had acted against the recommendation of the CSA and its legal counsel, and that the University had “interfered” in the process of releasing and collecting the membership fees in the past two years.

The CFS has had a series of legal cases over membership disputes across the nation, including other universities such as Concordia University, Simon Fraser University, McGill University, and the University of Victoria, and 11 others. As the largest student organization in Canada, the CFS’ goal is to work at the federal level for high quality and accessible post-secondary education. However, despite these issues, the 15 universities that first entered into this legal mess to decertify their membership from the CFS, was due to existing bureaucratic, top-down, governance issues that exists with the organization.

These internal issues have been attempted to be resolved for years but with no avail, and other Canadian university student organizations’ members have spoken up about the ability of the CFS to continue to effectively represent students’ interests.

“Every student – from every part of the political spectrum – has a reason to want to leave the CFS. For us, we have come to this decision because of what we feel are ineffective organizing practices and lobbying efforts, a bloated bureaucracy, questionable financial decisions, and low standards of democratic processes. We believe students deserve better” said Brendan Lehman in, a student from Laurentian University, in an article by Ethan Cox.

Nevertheless, as students at the University of Guelph have spoken out in the past, what do you know about the CFS? Regardless of their mandate to serve the interests of the students and to freeze the fees, do you think it is fair for them to be collecting over $250,000 in membership fees from you every year? Are students aware that they were even paying this prior to all of this legal mess (one that costs about $407,000 in legal fees) that has caused the disruption of several student services on campus (ahem, bacon at the Bullring)?

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  1. Posted by: Bonnie on Apr 9, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Is the fee supposed to be listed under 'Account Details'? I don't see it there. Are we still paying this fee, presently and in the future?

  2. Posted by: GavinA on Apr 10, 2014 @ 1:15pm

    @Bonnie,
    Because of the outcome of the referendum the University is no longer collecting the fee..The CSA is pursuing legal action to have it collected again

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