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National student union protests the proposal of a referendum on the fate of the SFUO

The national organization that oversees the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has condemned the University of Ottawa’s decision to terminate the SFUO’s status as the university’s exclusive student union.

In a public statement on Nov. 30, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) urged democratic reform and claimed the school did not have the legal authority to re-assign and dissolve SFUO businesses.

The university canceled their agreement with the SFUO on Sept. 24, following a series of fraud allegations and misconduct by members of its executive. The SFUO’s agreement with the university is set to dissolve on Dec. 24, after a mandatory 90-day notice period. At this point, SFUO-owned businesses and services will be allowed to continue to operate, but the university has suggested that they will not provide any funds or administrative support.

“The federation continues to oppose the university’s actions and demands they sign a new agreement with the SFUO, recognizing that change has to come democratically from members, including student union employees unionized with CUPE 4943 whose jobs are under threat,” the CFS statement reads.

The CFS also highlighted the services the SFUO provides to students, including a dental and health coverage plan that will expire in August 2019 if no new agreement is established by the university.

“The federation urges undergraduate students at the U of O to save their students’ union, however radically changed its members may want it to be. The best way to save the students’ union is democratically. With a General Assembly scheduled for Dec. 4, we encourage students to determine next steps for the continued existence of their union.”

The SFUO did not comment on the statements made by the CFS during the general assembly and no motions were proposed.

On Feb. 11, the U of O plans to hold a referendum where students may choose to abandon the SFUO completely, in favour of a new union, or no union. An interim agreement with the SFUO will be put in place until a new union can be chosen. The University of Ottawa Student Union—a recent competitor to the SFUO— is currently the only known alternative union on the ballot.