Students have launched a campaign to petition for a referendum on the University of Toronto Student Union’s (UTSU) continued membership within the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
The campaign, called You Decide UofT, is running two separate petitions to achieve the referendum: one for the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario (CFSO) provincial executives and one for the national executives of the CFS.
The CFS by-laws require a petition to receive signatures from 20 per cent of UTSU members at the St. George campus in order to trigger a referendum on continued membership within the federation. The UTMSU is recognized separately from the UTSU by the CFS and as such, UTM students are not eligible to participate in the petition.
The CFS is an organization made up of over 80 post-secondary student unions across the country. Along with the UTSU, its membership includes the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (APUS), the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU), the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), and the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) are also members of the CFS. The UTGSU’s attempt to leave the CFS was unsuccessful after the union’s referendum missed the quorum by seven votes.
You Decide UofT says it does not take a position on what the outcome on the hypothetical referendum should be. “We simply believe that students should have the opportunity to decide if they want to continue to be in the CFS themselves,” reads a portion of the description of its Facebook page.
Former UTSU board member Daman Singh spoke to The Varsity on behalf of You Decide UofT discussing the practical steps the organization will take in reaching the referendum: “We will work with various groups on campus to receive the signatures of at least 20% of local 98 members. Following this, we will ensure that the petition is delivered by registered mail to their respective Executives. The most rigorous part of the petition is ensuring we follow each and every rule that the organizations have laid out.”
In April, the UTSU ad-hoc committee on the CFS, of which Singh was a member, released its report criticizing the federation’s structure and defederation process.
UTSU President Jasmine Wong Denike declined to take a position on the campaign and noted that a petition on federating from the CFS must be initiated by the membership and not the executives: “The bylaws of the CFS state that any petition must be initiated by students, not by the students’ union. As such, the UTSU takes no position on the petition at this time. We are forbidden from doing so, and intend to respect the rules.”
The CFS did not immediately respond The Varsity’s inquiries for comment.
This story is developing, more to follow.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the petition needs to receive the signatures of 20 per cent of UTSU members. In fact, the petition needs the signatures of 20 percent of local 98 members.