CFS at the University of Windsor

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RageMore RageMore's picture
CFS at the University of Windsor

This is my first major post on this forum.  I'm just looking for a little advice on a matter.  

I am at the University of Windsor.  Our Student Alliance will be passing around a petition in the next few weeks.  They are asking students to call for a vote on membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.  However, they give no information on the CFS at all in their messages.  Most of what I have been told is basically that "a vote to leave CFS is a vote for democracy".  

Does anyone out there know much about the workings of the CFS?  I'm just looking for a little information on the topic.  

Thanks in advance!


They sound like a union busting outfit to me. I'd stick with the CFS.


I was CFS-O Chair in 1992-3.  There are others on here who have had CFS experience. You might want to start with the Federation's website.

Snert Snert's picture

Do you feel that your school's Student Council lacks a coherent foreign policy?  Are they not doing enough to support the garment workers of Chiapas?  Are they too focused on student life and not enough on global water rights?  If so, go CFS.  ;)


Snert wrote:
Are they too focused on student life and not enough on global water rights?

Are they too focused on student life and not enough on being something which Young Liberals can use to pad their resume?  Then go CASA


CFS isn't anywhere near perfect and definitely needs some fixing up and reform (not stupid reform) to make it more effective, but they are by far the best national student federation in English Canada.  I would say that while there are serious problems sometimes, my overall experience with the CFS has been positive.

A lot of the campaigns against the CFS also comes from campus conservatives who are ideologically opposed to all the good things the CFS stands for - things like reducing tuition, supporting students, anti-racism, feminism, etc.

PS:  check your inbox

lettersfromcorporate lettersfromcorporate's picture

It's all politics. shady politics at that.  The entire reason they want to seperate is because the people in our Council need power, and since they can't seem to find power on the national level, they decided to do the most appropriate response: Blame the National body in question and claim harrassment and ineffectiveness. What they want is for the CFS to not have any foreign policy at all, but operate as a lobby group.

The Student council though, they are terrible. and we'll never be able to get rid of them. The execs make 20,000 a year, and all the work is delegated to individual groups within under the council's umbrella. They provide only support at elections, and only to the people they WANT to win. For example, last year a certain VPUA fired a student who was possibly the most involved member because she wanted to run for President against a candidate HE wanted to win.  

Just the other day I found out that the polls were being rigged. The pollsters were having students sign people they told them to.  It's sad because I thought university would be a lot different than high school, but it isn't. same drama. same tired politics, same mediocre student bodies.


There are many good things about the CFS--mostly there are some great people who have been elected over the years, and some great campaign materials. However, there are many problems as well, and they should not be minimized or dismissed in my opinion.

Chief among the problems is a refusal to listen to concerns when raised by their membership, and a tendancy to call all those who criticise conservatives as has been done here. The UVIC GSS (where I am a member and staff person) successfully left the CFS in 2008 after three frustrating years trying to have our concerns addressed. Since that time the CFS has changed their bylaws twice to make it more difficult to leave--as they have done repeatedly over many years. That alone should give anyone pause.

Some who criticise are certainly conservative, but others are not. Beisan Zubi had an excellent post on her experiene at a CFS meeting which seems to be gone from this site, along with a lively debate it raised, not sure why, and I think it is a loss to an important debate that could be had at rabble.

For me, it comes down to the age old debate of ends and means, a question that plagues many organizations (and political parties) -- should we organize to silence the critical members of our groups? Should we ensure they do not get elected to the board/positions of power? Should we bully and cajole those we disagree with or debate with them?

My experience with the CFS was not a positive one, despite my support for their aims, and once members of my student union raised concerns with what we saw happening we were all effectively shut out and everything we supported was voted down automatically at general meetings. For instance, in a BC AGM - the last we attended - the BC graduate students present were the most vocal at raising concerns about financial management at the BC CFS. We were therefore blackballed -- when it came to motions about graduate student issues, the "loyal" locals voted down all the proposals the graduate student groups had made, even though they were the affect group. Worse, there were clear attempts to bully, isolate, and intimdate those who raised conerns.

The student movement involves many thousands of people and literally millions of dollars in Canada. Perhaps most importantly, student groups are where many people first experience activism. Therefore the health of this movement, whether at the national level in groups like the CFS or at the local level, should be a matter of concern to all who believe in social justice and the future of the left in Canada.

I think it deserves debate.