SJC Petition Forces CFS Referendum At UBC

Less than an hour ago, a referendum petition was delivered to AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Matt Parson calling for a referendum on CFS membership at UBC. Approximately 1100 signatures were collected over the past two days by the Social Justice Centre to put the following question to students: “Do you support lobbying for lower tuition by having the Alma Mater Society take out full membership in the Canadian Federation of Students?”

Tying the question to the concept of lobbying for lower tuition is clearly meant to capitalize on the recent referendum dealing with lobbying for lower tuition which passed with 87%. It’s also a common strategy used by the CFS to tie the concept of lower tuition into everything in order to muddle the overall intent of the question. Curiously, the fee increase that would be associated with taking out CFS membership is not mentioned in the question. The question may be referred to student court for a review of the wording. However, no appointees to student court were made this year, leaving the speaker of council Dave Tompkins as the default chief justice.

After AMS Council gave CASA the cold shoulder at the last council meeting by refusing to upgrade to full member status, and given loss of the UVSS in this week’s defederation referendum at UVic, the SJC and CFS felt the climate was as good as ever to get CFS membership on the radar at UBC and put the question directly to students. After the conclusion of the UVSS referendum yesterday, CFS national chair Roxanne Dubois and CFS-BC Chair-elect Zach Crispin quickly traveled over to Vancouver and were spotted on campus today collecting signatures to put the petition over the 1000-signature threshold.  Patricia Reichardt, a UBC Food, Nutrition, and Health student involved with the SJC, has been tapped to lead the on-campus campaign in support of the question. It is expected that CASA will lend support to the “No” side of this referendum, and we have received word that at least one full-time staff member will likely be present on campus during the campaign period to encourage students to, as described by an internal source, “vote strategically.”

Only one thing is for certain with a CFS referendum: the CFS are strong campaigners and will show up in force from across the country, with substantial funding, and using many questionable – some would say dishonest – campaigning strategies.  In order to prepare for what is expected to be a daunting campaign period, the AMS’ Elections Administrator has requested meetings with female student politicians from the UVSS to discuss the campaign climate during the defederation referendum. The pro-CFS Fuse slate has declined comment and the first student approached from the more moderate Renew slate has declined the invitation.


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  1. Yes, this is indeed a joke story for April Fools Day. Let’s all pray that, unlike last year’s AMS Confidential story about the pit getting shut down for liquor licence violations, it doesn’t actually come true in a year or so. Secondly, we hope the litigation-ready CFS is more enlightened than certain RCMP officers when it comes to jokes, as unlikely as that may seem.

    Posted by Neal Yonson | April 1, 2011, 11:55 am
  2. Now Neal, don’t be giving anyone any ideas…

    Posted by Michael Haack | April 2, 2011, 2:11 am
  3. Jesus Christ, I nearly had a heart attack. Remember, April fools isn’t about killing people.

    Posted by Random Guy | April 3, 2011, 12:42 pm
  4. CFS Bylaws stipulate that a petition of 10% of the student body is required to hold a referendum on membership, so the petition would require 4,500+ signatures. Thank goodness.

    Posted by J | April 3, 2011, 2:24 pm
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