Support for Canadian Federation of Students collapses in British Columbia, part 3

by MrContentGenerator

Read part 1 of this story here, and part 2 here.

“The North Island Students’ Union is a proud member of the British Columbia Federation of Students,” said Andrew Dalton. “Over the past two years, the BC office has stepped up to provide all the services, campaigns, and support needed for us to move forward successfully and be able to work successfully for our local members.”

The British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS),  one of the organisations that founded the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), has reformed to offer the services and campaigns that students say they previously received from the Ottawa group.

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Speaking of the national CFS, “It has been three years since a financial audit has been presented to the membership,” said Dalton, “Because of the failures of the National Executive, the BC Federation of Students has taken on providing all federation merchandise for students, organizing mass purchasing for BC institutions at better rates than ever before. The BC office also handled the organization and creation of this year’s handbooks, a service normally provided by the national office.”

“To bridge the disparity created by the [CFS], the British Columbia Federation of Students, our BC students’ union, has taken on the responsibility of providing the BC Locals with incredibly high-quality services,” said Santanna Hernandez from the Selkirk College Students’ Union.

The British Columbia Federation of Students isn’t the only option students’ unions are reviewing to fill the CFS gap.

“The Douglas Students’ Union has resolved to research other opportunities for national representation and engagement,” said Steven Beasley of the Douglas Students’ Union. “It is likely the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations will be one option among several to be researched.”

Beasley’s comments contrast with those of Andrew Dalton, who said specifically that the North Island Students’ Union would not explore membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). Given that BC schools have voiced the lack of a CFS campaign strategy as a primary reason for exiting the group, it is likely that other schools will avoid the CASA as North Island plans to, as that group does not engage in campaigns for free education.

“Our student association has not undertaken a membership review in any other student associations or student groups in which we don’t currently participate,” said James Bowen of Vancouver Island University Students’ Union. “We continue to actively participate in the BC Federation of Students and also in the CFS as much as is reasonably possible.”

Hernandez explained that the Selkirk College Students’ Union had supported a BCFS plan to start a new national student group saying, “due to the implosion of what was Canadian Federation of Students, students in Canada have been left with an imbalance in representation … Given their history and political positions, the SCSU will not consider joining the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. We need a real national students’ union; a fighting union grounded in campaigns for free education.”

This is part 3 of a series. The student associations at TRU, Northwest Community College, College of New Caledonia, Okanagan College, and Emily Carr University did not response to requests for comment. Camosun College Student Society External Executive Rachael Grant declined to comment.

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