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Monday, September 5, 2011

Before Voting in CUSA Elections this Week…

(Originally published for Carleton's newspaper, The Charlatan, but the end result was a highly censored article which mentioned few of the points noted below.)

As someone who has studied politics for three years and been politically involved for five years, I understand the importance of voting.  In city, provincial, and federal elections, your vote helps elected your representative to the respective government assembly.

However, the same can certainly not be said for CUSA elections.  These elections are elitist, corrupt, and usually fail to represent students’ interests.

Now, before you jump all over me, helplessly trying to defend this organization even though I have no idea why, listen to the facts.  This is an unbiased view simply based on facts.

I am mostly doing this for the newer students at Carleton.  Anyone who has paid attention to CUSA for more than a year would know everything I’m saying is true.  But if I can help even one person stay away from legitimizing this illegitimate organization, this article will have done its job.

On Elitism

  1. CUSA is supposed to be an organization of students representing students.  As undergraduate students, we’re generally between 17 and 23 and we come from all walks of life.  And yet Meera Chander, a 26 year-old, has purposely stayed in power by taking the minimal amount of courses and prolonging her university life as long as possible.
  2. Many executives of CUSA have been flown across Canada to push the radical agenda of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).  Meera Chander and Dina Skvirsky were flown to Guelph in November 2010 to support the CFS during a membership referendum.  Other executives have been sent to British Columbia to agitate the students and governments of that province.  By the way, they were still making their $30,000 annual CUSA salary while working on their pro-CFS agenda.
  3. For their support, when students vote out these executives for their elitist servitude to the CFS, former CUSA executives usually land comfy CFS jobs, where they can continue to claim to represent students well into their 30’s.

On Corruption
  1. In 2008/2009, the rightful President-elect of CUSA, Bruce Kyereh-Addo, was disqualified.  Even after the votes were counted and his victory was proclaimed, someone came forward to say he had punched a hole in a hall.  The person was anonymous and the hole was nowhere to be found.  And yet his disqualification stood.  It is no surprise that Bruce was openly Conservative, whose values would have certainly clashed with an organization bent on taking down corporations.
  2. In 2009/2010, Nick Bergamini was disqualified after a fake website was set up endorsing Bergamini.  Even though Bergamini had no knowledge of the website and did not order the website be set up, he was disqualified.  The Electoral Officer stated: “Even if you did not personally post the article or purchase the domain name, you are responsible for ensuring your election campaign is done in a fair and respectful manner.  Under the CUSA Electoral Code, as a candidate, you are responsible for your workers’ actions concerning your campaign.”
Now an identical situation has arisen, where the entire “A Voice for Students” slate had a website set up in their name and represented the members falsely.  My fellow law students will know the Bergamini ruling has set a precedent, so surely the entire Voice for Students campaign has to be disqualified, right?
Bergamini, like Kyereh-Addo, is also openly Conservative.  Coincidence?

On Failure to Represent
  1. Who can forget the internationally famous “ShineGate,” where CUSA voted unanimously minus one to drop cystic fibrosis funding, since it only affected white males.  This false research, ironically done by a Science student, created a disgraceful name for Carleton, and was heard across the world for months.  Did the students ask them to drop Shinerama?
  2. In 2009/2010, over 2,300 students – that’s us – signed a referendum petition on whether Carleton should remain a member of the Canadian Federation of Students.  This petition was hand-delivered by a Bailiff, and yet the CFS says they never got it.  CUSA, rather than representing its students, supported the CFS.
  3. In November 2010, CUSA pulled funding from Carleton Lifeline, a pro-life group here on campus.  CUSA noted that they are a pro-choice group (funny, unless all students are pro-choice, how can our student union declare their position?), and as such, Lifeline did not meet the requirements for funding.  In an enormous paradox, Carleton students who are members of Lifeline are now paying their student fees to NOT be represented by CUSA.
  4. Presently, Dina Skvirsky, running for President, is arguing for a permanent UPass.  On what basis?  Last year, Carleton students voted on a one year pilot project to have $290 added to their tuition fees.  Unfortunately, to the dismay of thousands of students, the project passed, and thousands of students who had no or little use for public transit were forced to pay $290 a year so the other students could take the bus.  Were you asked if you wanted a UPass for the 2011/2012 year?  I must have missed that referendum.
On this topic, however, there is light.  Obed Okyere, also running for President, would like to keep the UPass but allow for an opt-out option.  This is exactly what students need.  If you want a bus pass, great, you can get a discounted one through your tuition fees.  But if not – if you drive, walk, bike, skate, etc. – you can easily save your $290.

These are only a few of the issues CUSA has created in the past few years.  There is a labyrinth of others out there just waiting for your research and subsequent disgust.

CUSA is broken.  These are not minute cracks in an otherwise perfect system; these are gulfs of corruption and incompetence with only a few good people.  We cannot heal this organization with another election and hope to get new, better people.

Rather than voting this Wednesday and Thursday, write a letter to the President of Carleton University and the appropriate CUSA authorities demanding that they resign and close this unaccountable corporation.  This organization needs to be dismantled, and perhaps then we – the students – can create a new organization and enforce our representation from the beginning.