Camosun College Student Society sounds off on CFS controversy

Editor’s note: This letter was originally published online on April 2, at the Nexus, Camosun College’s student paper. We have chosen to reprint it here to provide further clarity and context to our own piece on the Canadian Federation of Students, also dated April 2.

Dear editor,

I would like to thank you for your recent story on the Canadian Federation of Students national’s response to allegations of corruption that have surfaced recently (“Canadian Federation of Students national office denies corruption allegations,” April 1, 2015 issue). Your fair representation of this story is an example of why Canada still needs a vibrant and diverse student-driven media. This is very difficult for us at the Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) as we believe deeply in the founding principles of the Canadian Federation of Students and that it is the best venue for students in Canada to come together in dialogue and action.

In response to the CFS national chairperson’s assertions in your article, we must confess we are deeply troubled. While we cannot verify all of those assertions to be untrue, we cannot at this time express confidence that they are true.

#1 The election was fair and democratic

The physical running of the election was handled in a fair and transparent manner by trusted individuals. However, there were individuals who misrepresented their intentions to run in a way to subvert the process. Essentially, they lied to prevent others from running and exploited our trust in hopes we would not oppose them. Those individuals were successful and key members of the current national executive and had to have been complicit in this for it to happen. This did serious damage to the trust within the organization, and that cost is in no way worth whatever gain those individuals who were involved think they have achieved.

#2 There was a need to hire private security to deal with threats to staff of the Federation

We cannot confirm that there was a need for this and we are confused as to why it would be necessary with the current information that we have. It’s puzzling and perhaps strangely aggressive.

#3 That the Federation is acting as a fair and benevolent pro-union employer

While we agree that the Federation has a long and proud history as a pro-union employer, we cannot confirm that the primary officers are behaving in a way that is consistent with this practice. At this point we believe the CFS national chairperson, the CFS national deputy chairperson, and the CFS national treasurer have the intention to displace long-term Federation staff in order to institute their own aspirations for the organization. We know what they have done has been accomplished without consultation with the membership. The individuals did not run on a platform of change in November and we have no clear understanding of their intentions. We have raised these concerns and have not received a satisfactory answer at this time. We find this very concerning.

#4 There is no communication or service breakdown at any level

As the people that maintained our connection to the CFS national office have been displaced for reasons we do not understand, we cannot support the national chairperson’s claim. We have attempted to establish direct communications on these issues in order to express our concerns, however, we waited six weeks to receive the information that is now represented in this email. In addition to this, over the past year we have faced increasing struggles in trying to conduct business with CFS Services (CFS-S). The website and email services have had struggles in the past year. Some CFS locals have experienced serious breakdowns in internal communication due to the failure of their email service. The bulk-purchase, year-round store has not been active since early last year. We have had 100 shirts that never arrived to us from the bulk purchasing service in 2013, and our services coordinator has been unable to get any response to the fact that we are out the cost of this item. We also ordered 2 500 pens and they had a failure rate of about 75 percent and we have not heard back anything on these issues, despite the services coordinator being told in person that this would be investigated. The CFS-BC provincial office received five very expensive ISIC card printers that require a website to be built to operate, five deadlines for that website’s construction have come and gone and locals without modern printers are grinding to a halt on production. What is important about this is that this is one of the most tangible benefits for students in their day-to-day lives from the national organization and we cannot at this time guarantee every member a card.

Moreover, we are concerned that radical action is being taken out of the blue without the consent or knowledge of the Camosun Student Society Local 75 of the CFS and other locals as well. We are still waiting to hear what justifies that.

We are concerned and saddened that we are forced to air our dirty laundry in public. However, we believe in a democratic national student movement and will do what we feel is necessary to protect that ideal.

In solidarity,
Rachael Grant
External Executive
Camosun College Student Society
CFS Local 75

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