As announced in the Manitoban, students at the University of Manitoba must decide if they want to spend a very large amount of money to be part of the Canadian Federation of Students. The Canadian Federation of Students is a very large organization that is both a corporate entity and a student lobbying group. The first time that I got to hear the pitch for CFS at U of M, I was not impressed. They never did answer the following in my opinion.
The discussion was about the benefits of CFS and whether it was worth the higher costs. The CFS was asked to justify the increased cost of membership to the students of the University of Manitoba. Instead of answering the question, the CFS dodged the question in such as way that even a professional spin-doctor would become dizzy listening to them spin things.
From the Minutes of the UMSU Council Mtg on Jan 27, 2005. Permanlink
Bhamra (UMSU Rep – Commerce):
I am looking at the cost of membership fees between CASA and CFS. I notice our CASA fees are at approximately $42,000/yr and when looking at and calculating the membership for CFS, I come up with a figure of approximately $374,000/yr. Thatâ€™s a considerable difference in money in membership between the two associations.
Conlon (Canadian Federation of Students Director of Research) replys:
What I think it is important to recognize is that our membership actually wonâ€™t cost the student union anything. It sounds like a flippant answer. Itâ€™s a fundamental part of the Federation its not that just the student unions that are the members of the federation, itâ€™s each individual member across the country. Each individual member is the reason why we have to have a referendum because each individual student has to make that decision to become part of this organization. Itâ€™s a co-operative of all students across the country. Thatâ€™s why we have services that benefit the members individually and thatâ€™s why we believe itâ€™s so important to have equality among our voting members across the country. There is a fundamental difference to say that each member has a voice at the referendum to say I want to reap the benefits of this Federation. I want the services. I want to recognize the political gains we will have by being part of Federation from coast to coast.
Soule (Canadian Federation of Students National Chairman – the top official of CFS):
Iâ€™d like to make a point in regards to the Federationâ€™s membership fees and in terms of how it would look to UMSUâ€™s budget bottom line. That amount would not show up as an expense or be reflected as an expense in the budget. The idea is that the referendum is very, very explicit that itâ€™s a separate student levy and it does not affect the UMSU budget. Whereas membership in another organization is a cost directly out of the UMSU budget and is a very distinct budget. In fact, in most student union budgets, the Federation fee is treated the same way as services they use and is not in the sense directly in the budget but they decide where it will show up in services.