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Graduate students voted to leave the Canadian Federation of Students.
the Gauntlet

Graduate students vote to leave CFS

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Graduate students voted this week in a referendum on the future of the Graduate Students' Association's membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.

"We have been meeting with grad students and putting up posters around campus as part of our referendum campaign," said GSA president Veronique Dorais. "We are following the bylaws of the CFS, and have even invited them to participate."

This follows a long campaign by the GSA, including a 2009 vote that was nullified when CFS bylaws for defederation referendums were not properly followed.

"We have had issues for a long time," said Dorais. "We feel that they have been ineffective for grad students."

The complaints raised by Dorais include not receiving messages about annual general meetings and National Graduate Caucuses, having non-student staff on the board of directors and problematic litigiousness -- the CFS has even taken member associations to court.

"We also feel that they have policies that do not make sense. For example, are taxing scholarships to increase their funding," added Dorais.

The process leading up to the referendum has been difficult for the GSA. While they had a petition notarized, including having ensured that all the students signing the petition were graduate students at the U of C, the CFS did not immediately respond to the petition.

"When they did respond, we were told by the CFS that there were some issues," said Dorais. "So, we had the Dean of Graduate Studies verify the petition and we had to wait a long time again. After that, we were told to pay outstanding fees, which we did by sending them a check."

However, the CFS retroactively applied the bylaws to the GSA, according to Dorais, who were told that only two member associations could hold referendums in any given year.

"We feel that we were misinformed by the CFS, and that there was a lack of communication," said Dorais. "They say that we failed to follow the bylaws when we did not even receive any responses about the referendum."

The GSA decided to go ahead with the referendum anyway after their current legal representation told them they were within their right to hold the referendum, as long as they followed the proper CFS bylaws.

"The CFS told us that they would not validate the referendum, and threatened legal action," said Dorais. "We are ready for a lawsuit, and it will be at no cost to students as we have insurance."

The Alberta College of Art and Design Students' Association, who will also be holding a defederation referendum next week, has not had the same issues in their dealings with the CFS. Instead, the ACADSA decided to hold a referendum for other reasons.

"We chose to hold the referendum mainly due to a review of the expenses in our budget," said ACADSA vice-president of communications Graham Krenz. "We also had students who wanted to promote democracy and give our membership awareness of what student groups they belong to."

ACADSA has had few challenges in setting up their referendum.

"We sent in the petition, and our notification was pretty quick," said Krenz. "Everything has been going well."

The cost of CFS membership is also a concern, as it is $40,000 per year, something Dorais feels would be better used for scholarships. However, Dorais did not rule out the possibly of joining with the U of C Students' Union on lobbying efforts.

"We've had good relations with the SU lately, so it is possible that we might lobby together on behalf of all students at the U of C," said Dorais.

Results were certified on Mar. 23 when a 15.6 per cent voter turnout voted 740-166 in favour of discontinuing membership in CFS.

Despite attempts to contact the CFS, representatives were unavailable for comment.





-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Gsa-students-l] To All Graduate Students - Message from GSA Interim President
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 15:35:18 -0600
From: GSA Executive Assistant

Dear GSA members,

Yesterday, on March 24, 2010, President Veronique Dorais-Ram submitted her resignation at the General Representative Council. Like you, I am saddened by this news. Veronique performed her duties well and will be missed. As per our bylaws, I will fill the role of interim GSA President for the next five weeks. During this time, I will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for our incoming President, James Lange, who will begin his term May 1, 2010.

Though this sudden transition of responsibilities is not without its challenges, the remaining Executive have every confidence that the Graduate Students’ Association will continue to function while remaining committed to our collective goals.

If you have any questions about this transition or what it will mean, please don\'t hesitate to contact me.


Dan Bidulock
GSA Interim President

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Gsa-students-l] To All Graduate Students - On the Resignation of our GSA President
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2010 11:31:33 -0600
From: GSA Executive Assistant

This message is sent on behalf of Daniel Bidulock, Interim President of
the GSA.
It comes as no surprise that GSA members have questions about the recent
resignation of our President, Veronique Dorais-Ram. Given that she
tendered her resignation during a closed GRC session, everything that
was said and was distributed is confidential. As such, I am not at
liberty to disclose any specific details. All that can be said is this:
the GSA\'s Executive Board voted on a motion put forward by Veronique. As
a result of that vote, Veronique felt that she could no longer serve in
the position of President.

I am aware that this does very little to answer your questions. With
that, I ask that you please give your GRC representatives your full
confidence. They possess the same information as the remaining
Executive, and are well-equipped to represent the respective interests
of all our departments.

Daniel Bidulock
Interim President Graduate Students\' Association University of Calgary

From: GSA Communication Officer
Date: March 29, 2010 12:36:06 PM MDT
Subject: [Gsa-students-l] To All Graduate Students - On the advice of GSA\'s lawyer

This e-mail is sent on behalf of Daniel Bidulock, Interim President of the GSA.

GSA Member,

The contents of Veronique Dorais Ram\'s report dated March 2010 are
controversial and the report is not accepted by the GSA as representing
a fair description of events or characterization of actions of any of
the parties referenced in the report. The distribution of the contents
of the report to anyone outside of the Executive of the GSA appears at
this time to be at least premature, if not entirely inappropriate.

As well, a preliminary statement has been received from the Executive
Director of the GSA, and she has refuted many of the things alleged in
the report - although she was not given an opportunity by Ms. Dorais Ram
to do so before Ms. Dorais Ram chose to distribute the report to GSA

Steps are being taken by the GSA to investigate the matters alleged in
her report, and in particular the GSA is arranging for an audit of its
financial records. At this time, there does not appear to be any reason
for concern but the GSA Executive is determined to make the proper
inquiry into whether there has been any wrongdoing.

Some of the contents of the report are likely defamatory and if the
report or any of the information and allegations in it are distributed
beyond the GRC, the GRC members disseminating that information, or the
report itself, may incur liability by doing so.

Accordingly, all would be well advised to maintain the contents of the
report in confidence to avoid incurring personal legal liability.

Daniel Bidulock

Interim President


The GSA has been on a downward slope for at least two years – ever since David Coletto, Rithesh Ram and their ilk entered office.

It became especially bad with the dismissal of a few key staff members around that time and really began to show signs of moral bankruptcy with their ill-fated CFS campaign, the re-direction of CFS fees, the installation of their current Executive Director and the Ram/Dorais “dynasty” which encourages silence, complicity and groupthink.

Bidulock’s disturbingly right-wing views (Google him for specifics) are out of place in an organization which was once a tolerant, life-affirming and positive place to govern, work and develop policy. The entire organization needs to be purged and re-structured.

Don’t listen to their lies.