The Canadian Federation of Students is looking to expand into Quebec’s Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel. The first stop in their campaign to gain members in this sector is Dawson College in Montreal. The CFS “referendum” is being held this week with voting today and tomorrow.
A large number of students have been trying to run a NO campaign at the college. They put up posters over the weekend stating reasons for not joining the CFS. The posters were promptly removed Monday morning.
They weren’t approved by the Canadian Federation of Students-mandated referendum oversight committee. The students have to get the CFS-mandated committee to approve NO campaign materials. Sources say that the NO campaign can’t get the posters approved through the committee because the committee considers their main points to be “unfactual.”
Melanie Hotchkiss, a student at Dawson College who is one of the leaders of the unofficial NO campaign, said that students are putting up the posters as fast as they are being taken down. The posters consist of a “Vote NO banner” on top and then quotations from student papers. “They are not approving our materials because they disagree with the opinion,” says Hotchkiss. “The information is all from respected student newspapers.” She noted that the committee is made up of four members, two of whom are CFS reps and two of whom are actively campaigning for the YES campaign.
The students involved in the NO campaign feel that CFS is ineffective – especially compared to more effective Quebec student associations – and that they are also a lot more cost-effective.
I estimate that the CFS stands to gain more than $80,000 a year from Dawson students. (NOTE: There are at least 7,500 full time students at Dawson and Concordia students pay $12.30 per year to the CFS.) What Dawson students will get in return is anyone’s guess.
According to Charlie Brentchley, a member of the referendum oversight committee, the NO posters were not approved because they used “out-of-date” citations from student newspapers. “The quotations are six months out-of-date and do not reflect the current reality of the Federation.”
The NO posters are also “unfactual,” according to Brentchley. The posters asked students: “Why pay for an ineffective student lobbying organization?” Brentchley says this is untrue and “misleading the student body.” The oversight committee exists to prevent misinformation according to Brentchley.