VICTORIA (CUP)—The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) B.C. chapter voted to expel the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) on Mar. 9, citing a non-payment of fees as the reason for the vote.
“The UVSS’s refusal to meet its basic financial obligations to its fellow members of the [CFS]-BC, combined with decertifying from the national organization, left member locals with little alternative but to revoke membership privileges,” says Katie Marocchi, chairperson of CFS-BC, in an email to The Martlet.
UVSS students are still considered full members of CFS-BC until the end of the winter session. The UVSS was one of the largest student unions paying into CFS-BC. The fees—totaling approximately $160 thousand—are in arrears according to the CFS-BC and date back to over a decade ago alleged underpayment. The UVSS board says no membership fees are outstanding.
After UVSS petitions and contentious campaigning on both sides—much of it addressing CFS-BC activities and some of it by CFS-BC staff members with no official ties to the national CFS—UVSS students voted 3255 to 1361 in favour of leaving the CFS on Mar. 29–31, 2011, with 30 percent voter turnout.
The scope of this referendum then came into question. The UVSS took the position that most students did not distinguish between the national and provincial CFS, so the votes were in favour of leaving all CFS bodies. The Supreme Court of B.C., however, ruled in Aug. 2012 that although membership in the national CFS is required for membership in CFS-BC, the UVSS’s termination of membership in the CFS did not automatically end membership in CFS-BC.
A UVSS referendum on whether or not to terminate CFS-BC membership was scheduled for Mar. 25–27, but is now no longer needed.
“We respect CFS-BC as an organization, for the work that it does on post-secondary issues, and for the contribution it has made to the culture of the UVSS,” says current UVSS Chairperson Emily Rogers in a Mar. 9 press release. “As a progressive student society that is at the forefront of student activism in B.C., the UVSS will continue to work on post-secondary issues as a founding member of the Alliance of B.C. Students.”
The Alliance of B.C. Students is an outgrowth of the “Where’s the Funding?” campaign, which was launched in late 2011.