B.C. student unions vote to leave CFS

CFS-BC renamed as group works to separate its members from national organization

A number of motions passed at the Canadian Federation of Students British Columbia’s (CFS-BC) semi-annual general meeting serve as a step towards removing B.C. student unions from the Canadian Federation of Students, the national organization to which many unions in B.C. belong.

CFS-BC’s semi-annual general meeting ran from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 in Delta, B.C.

“There was a motion put forward to have member locals work together to separate out from the national organization,” said CFS-BC spokesperson Steven Beasley.

The motion stated that “the progressive coalition” that once led CFS has been “irreparably betrayed by forces outside British Columbia” and that there is no longer a need to maintain “congruency or unified identity” between CFS-BC and CFS-National.

Beasley said that the decision to split was partly inspired by the CFS national executive’s lack of response to grievances raised against them at the last CFS-BC general meeting.

“That silence in and of itself makes a fairly noticeable statement,” Beasley said.

sidebar1All the motions related to the split passed unanimously, said CFS-BC Secretary Treasurer Jenelle Davies.

The newly-named group would be called the “British Columbia Federation of Students” and CFS-BC would be no more. The name change is awaiting approval from the provincial government before it becomes official, according to Beasley.

Beasley said that he did not anticipate any changes to the services previously provided under the CFS-BC name. The new organization would likely collect fees roughly equivalent to the old CFS fees in order to fund services.

“In the future, if students in British Columbia have their own organization and all the fees are directed to that provincial organization, then we only foresee improvements in the service that we can provide,” Beasley said.

When asked how the separation would proceed going forward, Beasley said that it’s up to the executive committee of CFS-BC to decide how to proceed.
“Nothing coming out of this meeting changes the relationship in the short-term,” Beasley said.

“We are federated with the national organization, but we are our own entity. So really it’s simply that the members are keen to see the B.C. organization acting more independently of the national organization.”

TRUSU did not send a delegation to the CFS-BC AGM. The union opted to stay at home in order to leave themselves free to deal with the ongoing threat of a faculty strike on campus, according to Amber Storvold, TRUSU’s VP external.

She did, however, note the union’s thoughts on the matter.

“We’re just really excited to move forward as a united and cohesive student movement in B.C.,” Storvold said.

This story was last updated Jan. 26, 2016.