by Kim Elaschuk
Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Liberal. For CFS or against? Any student who’s run the gauntlet of campaigning mania down the Riddell hallways would have noticed the increasingly partisan drives either side is peddling.
The Canadian Federation of Students is the largest student activism group in Canada. Its goal is to bring student issues to the attention of provincial and federal governments.
Recently, the University of Regina Students Union board challenged the university’s membership.They argued that CFS is both too expensive and corrupt. If there’s anything to be learned from American pundits, it’s that this sort of political rhetoric only splits a population. Down every hallway, amusingly similar posters call to students to side with them; the other side is wrong.
During the campaign–encouraged on by the officials of either side –two distinct sides emerged, us and them. While this motivated students to vote, after either side moves on, what will this do to the student body?
“I don’t think a body that represents the entire student body should be partisan(…)I don’t know if that was the right decision to make(…) it just didn’t feel right.” said Luke Paterson, a student at the U of R.
Meanwhile, student Joseph Steinhubl headed to the polling station to vote ‘no’ for CFS.
“Misappropriation of our student funding was a great backdrop for why I was voting and was in favour of our own Students’ Union rather than the other,” Steinhubl said.
The fracture doesn’t stop at just the students. URSU lifted the veil on CFS. Students who were against continuing membership have become disillusioned with CFS. Those who wanted to remain with the organization feel that URSU no longer represents them.
“The URSU Board is strongly opposed to the CFS putting their interests before the needs of University of Regina students,” said URSU President, Kyle Addison, on the Student Union’s website. Ironically, that’s the same argument that a lot of the pro-CFS students are saying about their elected officials.
“What we’ll get is a dissonance between the student body and those that represent them,” said U of R student Brittany Hack.
Both groups pride themselves on representing their students. Yet, after this referendum, neither has their full support, or trust.
Just this last week, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart held his Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington. His goal was to stop the spin that forces into opposite corners.
“If we amplify everything, we hear nothing,” Stewart said at his Oct. 30th rally. “If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve the problems would actually be quite reasonable.”
It doesn’t help the university to split the student body. It really doesn’t help to split the students from those meant to represent them. Instead of focusing on being the loudest, having real impartial information would help the group both sides are arguing they’re trying to help.
A healthy dose of respect is needed, and to remember that question is not who wins, but what is best for students.
As Stewart pleaded to the crowd in Washington, “Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.”