OPINION: CSA Lawsuit Empties the Pockets of Students.
Tuesday, April 2, 20131 Comment
Dear CSA Board:
I recently came upon a Facebook event notifying me that the CSA is planning to collaborate with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) to sue the University of Guelph using a secret motion that students have not been informed about.
[Facebook event link here --Ed.]
The motion is as follows:
BIRT, the CSA pursue a joint application with the CFS against the University regarding the collection of CFS membership fees, BIFRT, the joint application seek court orders for the university to:
1. Remit the CFS membership fees collected in trust to the CSA,
2. Resume the collection of CFS membership fees immediately, and
3. To remit the equivalent of any uncollected CFS membership fees to the CSA
BIFRT, the CSA Board of Directors empower the Executive Committee to coordinate this application until a court decision is made with regular updates to the Board of Directors.
As board members, it is your duty to uphold the mandate provided to you by students. Overturning the results of a democratic referendum in which 73.5% of students voted to leave the CFS is wrong.
By suing the University, the money will ultimately be coming out of students' pockets. Point 3 of the motion will sue the University for any uncollected CFS membership fees, which would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At a time when universities across the country are facing cuts, it is irresponsible to put further strains on students' pocketbooks. Political games should not be played with students' money.
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?
The secrecy surrounding the membership dispute is also worrying.
The Board minutes (here) note that "It is thought that the Board is overestimating how much students will care. Illustrating this is the very small response received on the CFS statement of facts. Every referendum that has gone through has been passed."
The fact that the recent referendum on a $2.50 fee increase was voted down by students should give all board members second thoughts about entering back into an organization that cost students $7.27 every semester! It is simply wrong that the CSA is choosing to do this without even consulting with students.
These same minutes note that "it is a guarantee that students do not want to pay more money."
Please, CSA, advocate for students and strike down this motion! If anything, it should be placed into a referendum for students to decide, as it impacts all students.
I also highly recommend that you do not provide executive empowerment to the current exec, as it will give them the power to enter into contracts that will bind all students. Since they are leaving next year, there is nothing stopping them from entering into an agreement with CFS that will force all Guelph students to continue paying for years to come.
Please think about the students you are representing!