GSA Letter RE: New Policy on Open, Accessible, and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations at UoT
To: Provost Cheryl Regehr and members of Governing Council.
Re: New Policy on Open, Accessible and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations
We, the Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association, Local 78 of the Canadian Federation of Students, are writing to communicate our opposition to the proposed New Policy on Open, Accessible, and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations.
At the 69th Semi-Annual National General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students between June 5th – June 8th 2016, student representatives from across the country approved of an emergency resolution in opposition to the proposed New Policy on Open, Accessible, and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations.
Our student union executive voted in opposition to the proposed new policy for the following reasons:
- This policy claims to support the autonomy of student groups but it completely undermines the independent nature and autonomy of student organizations.
- Student clubs and equity-seeking groups need to be able to run their groups in a way that reflects the needs of their members, and address systemic inequities. Some of the ideas proposed under the definitions of open, accessible, and democratic go against principles of equity.
- Student unions act in an open, accessible, and democratic manner – as defined by our members and expressed in our bylaws, not as defined by University Administrations.
- Student unions are independent, legally incorporated bodies, and are accountable to their membership, not a committee of the University
The autonomy of our student union, and the student unions at the U of T, is important to us. Members want their student union to continue to operate in an open, accessible and democratic manner without sacrificing their autonomy. We believe that the proposed policy challenges the fundamental independence that many students have fought for and what our society expects from a loyal advocate of students’ interests, which in many cases has been in contradiction to the decisions made by Governing Council.
UTMSU’s experience with their sister students’ union, the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (Local 97) should serve as a reminder to all stakeholders that the judiciary continues to respect organizational autonomy and the wishes of its members through the democratically established policies and by-laws of the organization.
We implore you to reject the proposed new policy at the upcoming Governing Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 23rd and that instead you work with legally incorporated student unions to lobby the provincial and federal governments to draft legislation that will respect student union autonomy while protecting the rights of our members.
Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association
Local 78, Canadian Federation of Students