The question of Concordia’s continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students received a decisive answer when students took to the polls last week.
The No side of the referendum question, which pushed for separation from the CFS, won handily with 72 per cent of participants voting in their favour, beating out the Yes side by approximately 1,400 votes. Prince Ralph Osei, Concordia Student Union’s president-elect, said it was enough. “We got 10 per cent voter turn out, and we could have done with five. I’m more than happy to have had students vote to leave the CFS”
“The vote to leave the CFS further demonstrates the unity of [Concordia students] to say “no more” to a federation that has failed the student movement,” said Alejandro Lobo-Guerrero, chairman of the No committee. “The unwillingness of the CFS to reform itself, its failed campaigns, the numerous… …scandals and the way they have treated Concordia, made it evident to students that there was no reason to stay.”
Current CSU President Amine Dabchy said “time and again the CFS has proven only to be a shady organization from within.” Dabchy, who was elected to Concordia’s Board of Governors in the elections last week, added “we tried finding common ground earlier last semester, we tried to make it better for the both of us and it resulted in an epic fail. They retrograded our petition just to lead it to a court battle.”
“The matter is yet to be resolved,” Dabchy said. “I just hope that the CFS respects our democracy and the outcome that resulted from it.”
Though the CFS did not respond in time to offer full comment on the situation, treasurer Dave Molenhuis did say that from what he knew, the CSU may have held a non-binding referendum in which the CFS and its members did not participate. “For a referendum on continued membership to take place it must be held in accordance with the bylaws of our federation,” he said. “These rules ensure a fair vote that allows the members of the federation to present a clear case for membership, and allows the students voting to be presented with all of the information necessary to make an informed decision.”
Molenhuis was critical of how the question was presented to the students. “I can say that it is not surprising that when students are only presented with a narrow view of the federation, that likely includes numerous misrepresentations and falsehoods, they would vote to support that view.”
In addition to the CFS not recognizing the validity of the referendum, it is also claiming the CSU owes them over $1 million, a figure the CSU says is made up. The situation is likely to end up in court.
Lobo-Guerrero said that he hoped it would not need to go that far. “This clear majority reflects the will of [Concordia students] to leave the federation and we hope the CFS executive understand and respect such an obvious message.”
While he made no mention of legal action, Lobo-Guerrero did say “we will continue to work tirelessly and through all the channels necessary to make sure [Concordia students’] wishes are rightfully recognized.”