“I have no information to that effect,” said Jesse Greener, Ontario chairperson for CFS. “We have no expressed interest from students at Ryerson about defederating.”
Greener pointed to a motion passed at a RyeSAC annual general meeting Wednesday night calling on the board of directors to cease and desist from collecting signatures for a petition which is needed to begin the defederation process.
“This points to the fact that the general membership wantss to remain members of the federation,” he said.
Dave MacLean, President of RyeSAC, said Greener made a presentation to the RyeSAC board of directors last week which stressed the benefits of CFS membership, adding Greener is fully aware of the movement to defederate at Ryerson.
“There are lots of different reasons to defederate, but it comes down to giving students on campus the ability to decide,” MacLean said, noting RyeSAC is not obligated to obey CFS bylaws on defederation because they contradict Ryerson rules.
MacLean expressed his disagreement with the costs of CFS membership.
“We pay over $200,000 a year for membership,” he said. “The national annual CFS budget is $3-million, $1-million of which is spent on suing schools that left them. They want to protect their income, and because of that I don’t think they give schools a fair chance to leave.”
Philippe Laliberté, President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said CFS made the defederation process difficult when the SFUO, in unison with other student governments, chose to defederate in 1995.
“The only reason we were able to get out was because CFS had to combat so many schools at once,” he said.
“They bombard campuses with paid staff and give away free goodies like Frisbees and water bottles to solicit votes against defederation,” MacLean said of past CFS behavior during the period before referendums on defederation at other universities.
Laliberté said there is disagreement with CFS over its position on the Rae Review of Ontario post-secondary education.
“They’re pushing for free tuition, and it’s difficult to get our message across that way,” he said. “We agree that tuition should not be deregulated, but free tuition is not realistic as this time. Pushing that view solely discredits our voice.”
“The CFS is taking the lead on the campaign around the Rae Review,” Greener maintained.
Ed Note: A retraction related to this story has been published in the Tuesday Nov. 9 issue of The Gazette. Please click here to access it.