The dispute between the UVic Student Society (UVSS) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has headed to a lawsuit. It may end up costing the UVSS upwards of $100,000.
Is anyone surprised?
For those blissfully unaware, last year a petition was circulated at UVic to defederate from the CFS (it’s sort of a fad these days), which got the John Hancock’s of 11.4 per cent of the student body. However, the CFS said a counter-petition was sent to them with names of people who signed the original petition, thus removing them from that petition, thus reducing the tally to under the 10 per cent threshold needed to pass. Oh, and they also claimed that the UVSS couldn’t leave until it paid a six-figure debt that traced back from the 1990’s…which they only decided to tell the UVSS about after they threatened to leave (ah, student politics).
Even if the judge found the original petition to be valid, there’s no guarantee (unless the court ordered it) that a referendum would immediately ensue—CFS bylaws only allow for two schools to hold a referendum each semester.
Now, at this point, the 10 people reading this post who have no set opinion towards the CFS might be asking “doesn’t the CFS realize that based on past precedent, judges will allow the referendum to happen?”
Well yes, I’m sure that thought has crossed their minds. However, for the CFS, this may be less about trying to win a lawsuit and more about running out the clock. “It’s our hope that we have a referendum by the end of next semester,” said UVSS Chair James Coccola, which is an obvious goal if only because after next semester his term will be over, and who knows what the next group of executives will want to do?
Coccola was elected as part of the RENEW slate, which won three of the four executive positions, marking the first time in over a decade that the slate most closely aligned with the CFS hasn’t been in power. So there are two ways of looking at this—either this was a a sea change in the political culture, or a one-time move to the centre by UVic students. If it’s the latter, than all it takes is a new pro-CFS group of student politicians to be elected for the course to change.
Either way, for CFS-court watchers, another of many cases to watch.