Resources from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Community Action Commission (CAC) are going towards a “final push” for the You Decide campaign.
Proponents of the You Decide campaign seek to collect enough signatures from members of UTSU Local 98, which includes full-time undergraduates on the St. George campus, to launch a referendum on the union’s membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.
The campaign does not take an official stance on decertification from the CFS, although many of its promoters have been vocal about wanting to leave the federation.
Since Tuesday, the CAC has been setting up booths marked with UTSU banners in several locations across campus, including Sidney Smith, Bahen Centre, and Robarts Library, with representatives of the CAC soliciting signatures for the You Decide petition.
Matt Thomas, UTSU Vice-President External, is responsible for chairing the CAC and was on the steering committee of You Decide before being appointed to the UTSU executive.
Thomas said that the CAC “passed a motion” to support You Decide with their time and resources. He asserted that “the UTSU is behind this” decision, and that the additional effort is evidence of the outgoing UTSU administration delivering on its promises.
The petition must be concluded by the end of this academic year, Thomas said, in order for the signatures collected from graduating students to be valid.
Though he said his own views on CFS decertification are “as far from neutral as you can get,” and he concedes that anti-CFS sentiment contributes in part to the motivation behind the campaign, Thomas asserts that the campaign itself is neutral on the question of decertification.
“When we are talking to people when we are collecting signatures we tell them that this isn’t to defederate. By signing this you’re not saying that you want to leave, you’re not saying that you want to stay, you’re just saying that you think that the students should vote,” he said.
He referred to recent UTSU presidential candidate Andre Fast as one example.
“Andre Fast has signed. You know? Like people who are very much pro CFS have signed.”
When asked if he thought that Fast was pro-CFS, Thomas said, “Scratch that” and requested that The Varsity not publish his statement. “I’m on the Elections and Referenda Committee, I can’t say that,” he said.
In an interview with The Varsity during the campaign, Fast said that he would support leaving the CFS or staying — whichever option was supported by a majority of students.
In January, four UTSU executives signed a letter supporting decertification from the CFS for Local 98.
The three other executives denounced the statement in a response letter the following week, as did University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union executive Jackie Zhao.
The incoming UTSU executive, which includes candidates from the Demand Better slate, an independent, and one executive candidate from the We the Students slate, consists of a majority of individuals who support decertification.
“Next year it will be the executives’ job to take out the mantle of the referendum,” Thomas said.