The winners of the November York Federation of Students (YFS) elections finally took office last Friday and are wasting no time in making changes to how the YFS operates.
Last week saw YFS president Paul Cooper and members of the Progress Not Politics (PNP) slate meet with Constituency Committee (CC) members for mediation, along with representatives of Student Affairs.
Both sides signed an agreement, which was put to the outgoing council for ratification last Thursday.
Under pressure from the York administration, the outgoing council had handed trusteeship over to the CC, giving them the responsibility of reaching an amicable conclusion. The CC consists of college and faculty council presidents.
The agreement made between the two parties states that the winners of the elections be ratified, that a committee be set up to review and recommend amendments of the YFS bylaws, and that Student Affairs administer the next elections.
The agreement also states that the new council must abide by the current bylaws, which call for an election in March 2004. However, those bylaws might be changed.
Late Monday night, notice was given to amend the YFS bylaws at a meeting to be held February 10. In separate e-mails sent by Cooper and vice-president academic and university affairs Stefan Santamaria to the YFS listserv, it was proposed to amend the bylaws to require an election “any time within one year from the ratification of a CRO report”.
Cooper wouldn’t comment on whether or not March 2004 elections will be held, however he did say that they would be postponed if the council felt that the elections would not run properly.
“Our number-one concern is to ensure elections are [run] properly,” says Cooper, who doesn’t want a repeat of the last election. “If the council is not confident that the appropriate changes can be made to ensure a fair and orderly election, we won’t have elections in March.”
President of Bethune College Council and CC member Ryan Gonsalves notes that bylaw changes must go through a general meeting, which includes all the members of CC.
“There would have to be agreement around the table,” says Gonsalves. “It would come down to a vote.”
As for the agreement between CC and the PNP slate, Gonsalves says that, overall, CC found it “quite amicable”.
“It was the best possible [agreement] under the circumstances,” he says.
But not all individuals are happy with the events that have transpired.
“I’m satisfied in the sense that YFS services and clubs will continue to get funding and continue to function,” says former vice-president of equality and services Sandra Pierre. “I’m not satisfied that the administration got involved.”
Pierre feels that it was inappropriate and it has “tainted” the new executive. “It makes them look like they just got in because of the administration.” She also believes that ratification would have gone forward without the university stepping in.
Though the first meeting of the new council was called for last night, it had to be postponed to tonight as a result of the snowfall.
Cooper says that the students can expect the new government to work for them and implement campaign promises immediately.
“We’re putting forward that motion [immediately] to reduce executive salaries,” says Cooper, adding that the motion will only take effect two weeks from now, as the bylaws require two weeks’ notice.
Other motions on tomorrow’s agenda include a motion to seek a method to de-federate from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
Cooper explains that this motion is being brought forward because the YFS believes that the CFS represents “extremist politics students [on this campus] voted to get out of”, adding that there are other national student unions to which York could belong.
Though the CFS’ Ontario branch is widely applauded for their lobbying efforts in getting the provincial government to implement a tuition freeze, Cooper says that the CFS’ efforts were inadequate.
“We don’t believe they’re an effective lobbying group,” he says, speculating that once the two-year time period on the freeze is up, tuition will skyrocket. Cooper also notes that the freeze applies to domestic students, while international students are facing massive increases.
“They froze tuition at the expense of international students,” he says.
The York student fees include $0.24 per credit for CFS and its Ontario branch, which totals $28.80 over an average student’s four-year academic career.
Tomorrow’s agenda also includes a proposal to sign a contract with Clegg Campus Marketing to bring the National Post to campus.
– With files from Angie Oliveira