To get good insightful answers, how the question is framed matters. I missed an opportunity on Thursday
The CFS is currently in the process of taking the Student Society of McGill University into their fold. This summer, members of the SSMU Executive traveled extensively across Canada visiting with CFS locals and meeting with major CFS leaders. Recently, they found an excuse to push to get out of FEUQ.
SSMU was required to have a referendum to decide if they wished to continue as members of the FEUQ this coming spring. However, in a hastily decision which as raised many questions about due process, the Council has decided to have a referendum this fall. Due to this, as I write this, students at McGill are voting on their future within the FEUQ. Regardless of where one stands on the FEUQ, there are a lot of questions to be asked.
For the record, I think FEUQ is next to useless like most of our student lobbying organizations.
The McGill Tribune and McGill Daily have both written extensively on the issue:
Week of Oct 30th to Nov. 3rd:
- EDITORIAL: Where the FEUQ did democracy go? (McGill Tribune)
- Student appeals FEUQ question: Claims process lacked proper debate (McGill Tribune)
- Allegations fly as FEUQ campaigning heats up: Members of “Yes” committee accused of proposing biased referendum question, accuse “No” committee member of violating bylaws (McGill Daily)
Week of Nov. 6th to Nov. 10th
- News Brief: Students’ Society receives mise en demeure from former exec (McGill Tribune)
- Allegations fly at FEUQ referendum debate: Undecided students not drawn to event (McGill Tribune)
- Referendum results sealed after question is challenged (McGill Daily)
Week of Nov. 13th to now:
- J-Board hears case on referendum question (McGill Tribune)
I completely agree with the editorial of the McGill Tribune Where the FEUQ did democracy go?. The key points of it were:
There was little reason for a hasty referendum to leave FEUQ at McGill as FEUQ bylaws require that membership be voted on every five years.
That careful consideration of the action was not taken.
That the reason for the referendum is trivial short term difficulties.
That students are being mislead on the issue. (My note: the misleading coming from the same people trying to guide McGill into the loving arms of CFS)
That if students vote yes, McGill will be part of no student umbrella student organization.
The ballot question is bias against FEUQ and seems to have nothing to do with the issues being discussed in the campaigns
The ending paragraphs say it all:
The way in which this question was brought to referendum doesn’t seem terribly democratic either. When the issue was brought to SSMU Council, many councillors were uneducated on the issue and none had an opportunity to discuss it with the committees that they represent. The SSMU constitution states that referendum questions need to be brought up at one meeting and voted upon in the next. Donny-Clark merely paid lip service to this rule by calling an emergency meeting to vote on the question 10 minutes after the meeting in which it was brought up, thereby depriving councillors of the two weeks they should have had to discuss the issue with students and with faculty councils. The question was essentially rubber-stamped by a council that was caught off guard.
The question itself is also biased toward the yes side. Instead of asking us whether or not we believe FEUQ is a worthy organization that promotes student interests, it asks whether we want an extra $5 a year in our pockets. Who couldn’t use a little extra cash?
This question shouldn’t even be on the ballot this fall. There is no valid reason why we can’t wait until the previously scheduled referendum on the issue. SSMU executives claim that if they wait, FEUQ will work behind the scenes to orchestrate a victory. However, SSMU can work as well to educate students on FEUQ’s failings and tell us about the alternatives and their plans for the future. “They don’t always get along with me” isn’t a good enough excuse to hold a referendum and FEUQ’s supposed disregard for the democratic process is no reason for SSMU to ignore it as well.
Students should not let SSMU get away with this childish, inappropriate behaviour. We should vote no on this referendum question, not because we want to stay in FEUQ, but because we need a proper debate on the issue. We want to be informed voters and decide on a course of action that judges FEUQ on its merits rather than a meeting. If SSMU is so concerned with campus democracy, they should be able to put up with their personal issues with FEUQ for a little while to give students time to decide for themselves whether FEUQ is really as bad as they say.
The article from the McGill Tribune Student appeals FEUQ question is about an appeal launched by a former Executive member of the student society at McGill. (CFS must really not like former Executives these days) The student is appealing based on a lack of due process. It is interesting to note that the SSMU held two special meetings on the same day with only 15 minutes between the meeting which is a clear violation of the spirit of having two separate meetings at separate times to allow for sober second thought. The referendum question being asked is bias to create the result that the SSMU wants. It is very sad to read that the SSMU J-Board was not constituted prior to this referedum occuring. This could very easily end up in the courts.
The article from the McGill Daily Allegations fly as FEUQ question heats up is an interesting read. It would appear that campaigning on both sides has become dirty. I do find it interesting that FEUQ rules forbid the FEUQ executive from campaigning at schools holding referendums on membership.
The article this week *[J-
Board hears case on referendum question](http://www.mcgilltribune.com/media/storage/paper234/news/2006/11/14/News/JBoard.Hears.Case.On.Referendum.Question-24
56948.shtml?norewrite200611142220&sourcedomain=www.mcgilltribune.com)* in the McGill Tribune states:
Also in dispute was the clarity of the referendum question itself. Referring to Article 20.3, which requires that the CRO “ensure that referendum questions are clear [and] concise,” Krane said that the question was unnecessarily long with a total of 231 words. He also argued that the question’s whereas clauses were biased and included “unproven allegations which do not add to the voters’ understanding,” rather than facts.
A 231 word question. That is crazy! How is that acceptable. That is clearly designed to get students to vote one way and is an insult to their intelligence. The way that the SSMU is acting is at the very least dirty, if not dishonourable.
No Surprise: Now that the referedum is done, CFS is now on the campus of McGill and it looks like McGill is going to sign away their independence by taking prospective membership in the CFS which requires they allow CFS to administer “a referendum” within a year. Expect that to occur this spring. The McGill Tribune reports on the CFS pitch to SSMU..
The irony of all this dirty play against other student organizations by those at McGill looking to move into the CFS is that they are screaming local autonomy and that the FEUQ should have no say whatsoever over what happens at McGill. If they even thought of trying the slightest bit of local thinking under the CFS in trying to leave outside the CFS rules, they be in court.