CFS Wants $1.8M

Count your pennies, Concordia students—the Canadian Federation of Students says you owe them money, and lots of it.

In a counter-claim submitted in January to the Concordia Student Union’s lawsuit to leave the CFS, the national student lobby group said that the union owes them roughly $1.8 million.
“I don’t see their logic,” said CSU President Lex Gill.

The claim from the CFS isn’t new. The lobby group has maintained since February 2010 that Concordia students owe them just over $1 million in back dues, an assertion both the CSU and Concordia have disputed.

Facing allegations of misspent fees, stagnant campaigns and a failure to successfully lobby the federal government, student groups across the country are attempting to leave the CFS; the CSU was the eighth to attempt it.

After the CFS increased its previous claim by $800,000, Gill said the new figure is based on three things: dues owed for this year, despite the CSU’s attempt to leave; money the CFS claims is owed to CFS-Quebec, a separate entity, dating back to 1998; and unpaid dues from all Concordia students from 1998 onward.

Gill said the last claim was impossible, due to a little known aspect of CSU history.

“From 1998 until 2007, the only people who should have been paying fees to the CFS were Arts and Science and Fine Arts students,” said Gill. “In 1998, Arts and Science and Fine Arts students were the only members of the CSU, and they were the only people able to vote to join the CFS.”

At the time, business and engineering students were represented by separate student associations.

The CFS’s counter-claim comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the CSU after Concordia students voted in a March 2010 referendum to leave the organization.

Although 72 per cent of those who voted wished to leave, the CFS claimed the referendum was illegitimate due to insufficient turnout, which prompted the CSU to sue for its freedom in March 2011.
Concordia’s Graduate Students’ Association also held a referendum in April 2010 in which 75 per cent of the vote was against remaining part of the federation.

The CFS similarly refused to recognize those results; the GSA, like the CSU, remains embroiled in an ongoing legal battle to leave the federation.