Feds leaves CASA

A founder and member since 1995, Feds has recently announced its withdrawal from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). 

Through their involvement in Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and CASA, Feds advocates for students to the provincial and federal governments.

 “It has been practice for the Federation of Students to make alliances with other undergraduate associations across Ontario and Canada to be able to add some weight to the voices of students to the government,” said Adam Garcia, former Feds VP education.

However, after a review of their involvement with CASA in 2010, Feds expressed their intent to withdraw their membership when they stepped down to associate members in 2012, the first step in the process of fully terminating their membership.  

Being a full member with CASA allows a student association to delegate one representative to vote on the motions, policies, and procedures being decided upon; associate members do not receive a vote. 

“Ever since about 2004 we have begun to note some changes which aren’t really in undergraduate students’ best interests,” said Garcia. 

“Our concerns primarily focused around member autonomy; the weight of larger student associations around the table. Naturally we represent more students so we felt that one vote for a member association of 30,000 students didn’t seem fair when you compared that to the fact that a student association of 2,500 students also received one vote,” said Garcia. “Waterloo students were not being properly represented around the table from my perspective.”

Significant issues regarding CASA’s policy development were also outlined in a report released by the Feds Education Advisory Committee.

“There are far more small schools than large schools, so very rarely could large schools actually influence the policies and the advocacy priorities of CASA in a way that impacted their students. But the larger schools actually represent the majority of the CASA students that are represented, so when we’re picking policies and priorities that don’t really match with the majority of students that the organization represents, I think that it’s a natural conclusion that those larger student associations would take issue with that,” said Garcia.

Feds is not alone in their resignation from CASA. The national student alliance has lost many of its full members, including the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, and Dalhousie University. Garcia, along with Feds, hopes CASA takes this as a signal to change.

What’s more is that the $51,000 membership fee along with travel costs put towards Feds’ involvement in CASA will now be funding other initiatives that benefit students. Garcia recently hired two part-time staff members responsible for assisting with academic and municipal issues such as Wi-Fi on campus, student financial assistance, TA training, student housing, and transit.

“That money can be better utilized to have student leaders out there advocating on behalf of their fellow students,” said Garcia.

“I think that [this] opens up some opportunities,” said Garcia.


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