A bitter fight between two national student organizations came to a head last night at the University of Toronto Student Administrative Council (SAC) annual general meeting.

The U of T voted to become a trial member of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) after a raucous night of delays, walkouts and a marching band in University College’s East Hall.

The CFS, representing approximately 400,000 students at universities across Canada, is best known for organizing demonstrations such as the February 6 tuition freeze campaign. SAC president Alex Kerner, a long-time supporter of the CFS, had placed a motion to make the U of T prospective members of the CFS on the annual general meeting’s agenda.

Membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a rival student organization, was also on last night’s agenda. Former CASA president Mark Kissel sponsored a motion to have U of T students become members of the organization.

A flurry of motions from the floor at the meeting’s start attempted to eliminate the proxies collected by Kerner, but one by one they were ruled out of order. This was followed by another skirmish over posting notice for bylaw changes, then by amending the meeting so more than a dozen bylaw changes had to be discussed individually. Depending on who one talked to, the snail’s pace of the meeting was either a necessary part of discussion or an attempt to delay the vote over CFS membership until late in the night when quorum would be lost.

The continuous procedural questions raised by St. Michael’s representative Christopher Deans and Trinity representative Forrest Pass were echoed by former SAC director and current Varsity board chair Andrew Lefoley, who gave blustering speeches comparing SAC democracy to “a toad in a pot with the heat constantly being turned up.”

As the SAC bylaws were approved one by one, Mark Parker brought a case of Moosehead beer into the meeting. The beer caused a disruption as SAC equity commissioner Liz Majic asked to have the alcohol removed because it was offending Muslim students present at the meeting. Trinity rep Pass replied, “Caffeine is prohibited to members of the Mormon faith. I ask that the Nestea and Coca-Cola be removed.”

Both the beer and all the soft drinks in the room were then taken away under the watchful gaze of two campus police officers who had arrived on scene.

Immediately after one last attempt to disqualify Kerner’s proxies failed, almost a dozen students left the room. Many of them, such as Pass, Deans, Lefoley and UC representative Matthew Curtis, were rumoured to be supporters of CASA.

“The dictatorship of the many is no better than the dictatorship of the one, or of the few,” shouted Lefoley in reference to the massive number of proxies collected by the SAC executive.

The meeting then listened to SAC executives Kerner and Tabah as they told the meeting CFS membership would give U of T a voice in the national student movement. “I think we owe it to our constituency,” Tabah said.

The motion to become prospective CFS members was passed with little discussion from the remaining members at the meeting, who at this point were only a few dozen people shy of losing quorum after the walkout. Just after the motion passed, East Hall shook with the sounds of off-tune trombones and clashing cymbals. The Lady Godiva Marching Bnad proceeded to parade through the hall and stayed for approximately 20 minutes, playing “Louie Louie,” ‘It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” and the theme from “Sesame Street.”

Those who had walked out shortly before were seen playing with the band. Unlikely to defeat Kerner’s more than 500 proxies with the 200 he had collected, Kissel then left the room.