At the next Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Board of Administration (BOA) meeting, a motion will be put forward to launch a review into the relationship between the SFUO and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
Upon looking into the records of the CFS, it is very murky and hard to see where the money they get from the SFUO, and many other student unions, goes to. They don’t release their expenditures and revenue in a way that is accessible to the general public, they don’t send back reports to the SFUO explaining how our money is being spent, and they certainly don’t act in a way that is transparent to the many universities that send money to the CFS.
When a government or bureaucratic institution doesn’t release information to the members of the association, do the members then choose to embrace complacency and do nothing? Of course not. They choose to demand accountability and transparency. So why shouldn’t we do the same, the members of the SFUO?
The BOA should pass the proposed motion and therefore approve that a review of the relationship between the SFUO and CFS is launched. This would ensure that we can gain information to see whether or not we are getting the best quality of services and resources from the CFS.
The committee would be tasked with ensuring that we are getting a good deal out of our student federation’s relationship with CFS, and that the money is being used to advance the causes that matter to U of O students. The SFUO executive would report back to the student body at the General Assembly that will be held sometime over the winter.
Given the SFUO’s current financial crisis, I believe that this committee is needed to make sure that we are getting value out of the fees that we as students send to the CFS.
Some people will ask whether there is precedence for pursuing this motion. The answer is “Yes, there is!” We aren’t the only student union in Ontario facing these issues.
The Ryerson Student Union (RSU) conducted a review and discovered that the CFS was not benefitting the students at Ryerson by not providing transparency and by concluding that the nearly $500,000 the RSU was sending to them would be better spent elsewhere.
Isn’t it high time for the SFUO to launch a similar review? If the SFUO wishes to be more transparent, perhaps they should look at other student unions for guidance and advice.
I strongly encourage every member of the SFUO executive and the BOA to vote in favour of this motion. Students at U of O want accountable, democratic, and transparent governance, which would benefit all of us.
After all, a thorough review would help strengthen the relationship with our student federation.
—Jordan Kent, first-year political science student at the U of O.