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Letters to the Editor

by Archives September 22, 2009

re: “Concordia should separate from CFS Quebec,” Sept. 15
As a former active student at Concordia, I noticed a petition going around to ask the basic question if Concordia students want to be part of the Canadian Federation of Students (here in Quebec and nationally). A petition is a great way to give students an opportunity to decide in March whether or not they wish to stay in the CFS (the petition will only trigger a referendum, but will not independently have any effect on continued membership in the CFS). Thus, the petition is great because it allows the students the democratic option to re-evaluate Concordia`s continued membership in the CFS in the March elections. It is also important to note that, for Concordia, the CFS take about $12 of each student’s money, and the services they provide in return are dismal (that is, they give students free ISIC cards and that’s about it). They will continue to be the same dodgy organization they are without us, but the only difference is that we will no longer be funding and implicitly supporting the CFS, as a student body of our own. Either way, whether one votes in favour of the referendum question or not, this gives the chance to students to make this decision. It is the most democratic way to decide the future of the affiliation with CFS – nationally and provincially.

-Zach Battat
Former Concordia Student Union Councillor (2007 – 2008)

re: “Concordia should separate from CFS Quebec,” Sept. 15
I could be crass, and start this letter with my original idea, which was a rather crude “Fuck the CFS!” statement, but I would like to afford this letter the same thought and respect the CFS has given to Concordia students, so rather: “Fuck the CFS, megahard.”
The Canadian Federation of Students is a national lobbying firm to which Concordia students allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in our student money and from whom we have seen little in return. Instead, the CFS sues student unions who attempt to leave its cavernous folds, install black ops agents in the offices of impressionable student unions and hire former union executives who have pushed their agenda into cushy CFS jobs (Noah Stewart-Ornstein, Mathieu Murphy-Perron, Steven Rosenshein, Colin Goldfinch and Brent Farrington from Concordia alone).
All of this and more is why I am part of a petition circulating to get a ballot question on our next regular election that questions Concordia’s commitment to this dubious organization and hopes to open up debate on this subject. Signing this petition is not committing to a vote to stay or leave– only to keep the debate alive. There are obviously differing opinions on this matter, but I truly believe the most democratic option at our disposal is to question the CFS’s past and future at Concordia. I’ve done this and come to the conclusion of ‘fuck the CFS’. I just hope they don’t sue me, too.

-Beisan Zubi
Creative writing/Political Science

The CFS is the largest student lobby group in Canada. It was founded in 1981, with the mission to protect student interests at the national level. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is – on paper. The way in which CFS has unfolded in reality is another story.
On the other side of things, CFS-S was created in the late 1990’s – it sells things and it seems to do pretty well. CFS has 11 businesses under its wing (some regarded as a ‘partnership’ status). It covers the whole spectrum of student life -or any life for that matter. Including: accommodation (homes4students.ca), financial management/mismanagement services (UFile and Student Saver Online Mall), transportation (Travel CUTS), website design (Student Union Website Service), communication (studentphones.com), insurance (National Student Health Network), printing needs (Handbook and Dayplanner Service) and directory assistance (Canadian Students’ Union Directory), amongst others.
These various business ventures are ultimately run by a single interest group – the CFS. And this is where the problem begins. Where differences between interest-maximization (non-profit) and profit-maximization (for-profit) becomes blurred. According to Industry Canada’s registry, the Board of Directors of Travel CUTS (a subsidiary of CFS-S and therefore a ‘sub’-subsidiary of CFS) is manned by 4 of 7 former CFS executives: Brent Farrington, Amanda Aziz, David Hare, and Phillip Link. Differences between the CFS and CFS-S are strictly administrative – they are practically one and the same.
There is one fundamental problem that comes from this overlap. And that dichotomy is the problem. Making money and representing people are never mutually complimentary. Especially when the people you are trying to make money off of are the very same people who are supposed to benefit from your work.
The idea that CFS and CFS-S seek to represent students while simultaneously seeking to make money off students is highly problematic. Students are among the most vulnerable consumers in Canadian society: they are both poor, and lack the experience to holistically distinguish a bargain from a scam. They need a group to represent them and to assist them in making good choices in the ends of their financial well-being. With the creation of the CFS-S, the CFS has proven it is not up to that challenge.
What should come first, making money or representing people? The fact that a petition drive has commenced at Concordia to de-federate the CSU from the CFS is a great first step towards liberating our school.

-Sally Silverman

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