A Student Government Must Work for Students
This weekend, the AMS Offices, JDUC, and Queen’s Centre were vandalized in the middle of the night with unauthorized stickers and posters produced by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). As a result, the Student Life Centre cancelled a booking in MacCorry today relating to the CFS Day of Action event.
Unfortunately, these disrespectful tactics are typical of the CFS.
We go to a school with a sense of community and that is respectful and inclusive of all views; we should be proud of that. By contrast, the Canadian Federation of Students consistently demonstrates hostility to any ideas that do not conform with their hard line ideology.
The mission of the AMS is to serve and represent the diversity of students at Queen’s. That requires listening to our student body and finding compromises between competing interests.
On a provincial level, it requires hard work and collaboration between schools that share similar interests on many issues despite unique circumstances. When the AMS joins our partner schools to lobby at Queen’s Park, it’s on behalf of our 17,000 undergraduates and not the narrow interests and pet projects of a privileged few.
The same cannot be said about the Canadian Federation of Students. Over the past decade, they have taken stances opposing fossil fuel development and singling out Israel for criticism. Taking stances on these kinds of divisive issues is not conducive to creating a safe space for discussion. In fact, it stifles dissenting viewpoints. Student government exists to facilitate these kind of discussions on campus, not take part in them.
We should be judged on our results, and I’m proud of the results we get when advocating for students. Over the past 6 months, we worked with Student Wellness Services to get more hours and provide better training to staff. We worked with the Library to get more study space for students. We have worked, and are continuing to work, to create a long-term plan to improve the JDUC.
Regrettably, the CFS values protests over policy making. Flashy rhetoric and revolutionary slogans displace the hard-work required to effect change. Their tactics are not only ineffective, they are deplorable.
Damaging the stonework of our Student Life Centre – refinished in renovations this summer – does not eliminate tuition or improve the lives of students in any way. It is, at best, a distraction, and, at worst, an act of malice toward all of our students.
We never see this level of disrespect for our University from other groups on campus. However, it is no surprise to see this behaviour from people who support an organization that sues its members when they try to leave. Over the past 25 years there have been 18 lawsuits involving schools that wanted to leave the CFS.
Just last year, the Cape Breton University Students Union was nearly forced into bankruptcy after they were required to pay the CFS $540,000 following a legal battle that lasted over half a decade. It’s tactics like this that show the CFS puts its own interests ahead of students.
When we collaborate with other student governments, Queen’s students need to come first. On this Day of Action, I ask you to remember that: you come before the AMS and its staff, or any other organization that claims to represent you.