Carleton looks to cut ties with student federation

Carleton University students will vote next week on whether to leave the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), an organization founded at the Ottawa school in 1981.

Canadian Federation of Students founded at Carleton University in 1981

Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) President David Oladejo says students are paying dues to the Canadian Federation of Students for activities CUSA already covers. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

Carleton University students will vote next week on whether to leave the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), an organization founded at the Ottawa school in 1981.

Students will vote in a referendum from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19.

David Oladejo, president of the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA), said he supports many of the causes the federation advocates for, but not the annual fees it demands from students.

It doesn't make sense to continue to hand over $400,000 to an outside organization.- DAVID Oladejo, CUSA president

"A lot of that work we actually do right here on campus and students already pay a fee to their association, so it doesn't make sense to continue to hand over $400,000 to an outside organization," he said.  

Currently, those fees work out to $16.74 per student.

Oladejo said CUSA has been unhappy in the past with the way the CFS is run and managed. Attempts to make changes have been unsuccessful, he said.

As the federation's founding university, the Carleton referendum should send a clear message, Oladejo said.

"If the founding school is unhappy and has been fighting for several years to get the referendum, I can only imagine what other schools are thinking."

The Canadian Federation of Students was founded at Carleton University in 1981. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

CFS fighting for free tuition

But Nour Alideeb, the federation's Ontario chair, denied there's widespread dissatisfaction among Carleton students.

"There are some individuals on campus that don't necessarily agree with some of the work or the stances that the federation has, but that overshadows the really amazing work that we do," Alideeb said.  

Alideeb said the federation offers students discounts on travel and other offers, but it is also a leading advocate for post-secondary education, pushing government to eliminate tuition.

"In Ontario now with the scary thought of budget cuts to services like post-secondary education, it is more important than ever to be united and be talking about a free, high-quality education," she said.  

Carleton students will be asked on the ballot whether they want to stay part of the federation. Ten per cent of eligible students must vote for the referendum to count.

"We want people to take all the information in and make an informed decision, because at the end of the day this is a student decision," Oladejo said.