June 7, 2017

70th Semi-Annual General Meeting: Day Three Recap

On day three of the General Meeting, delegates participated in the budget committee, organisational services and development committee, policy review and development committee and the campaigns and government relations forum, as well as caucuses and constituency groups.

Throughout the day, delegates also had the opportunity to attend two informative and inspiring workshops on the importance of fair dealing in copyright and grassroots organizing respectively, and a members’ panel on student organizing.

In the first workshop of the day, ‘’Defending Fair Dealing in Copyright’’, presenters talked about what copyright is, outlined how Canada got to its current legislation, and discussed the upcoming review of the Copyright Modernization Act and why it is important to engage and mobilize students.

Students in post-secondary institutions interact with copyrighted material every day. In 2012, the Canadian Federation of Students worked with coalition partners to win an expanded definition of fair dealing in the Copyright Modernization Act. Fair dealing is the ability to use material without permission and payment when the use is fair for these purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting. This has meant that students are able to more easily access materials, including text, pictures and videos, for educational purposes without paying exorbitant fees. In the fall, this increased access will come under attack with the review of the Copyright Modernization Act and students, as users and creators of knowledge, need to defend the importance of public knowledge for the public good and the betterment of society. This workshop was a great way to make student aware of upcoming challenges to copyright and of the Canadian Federation of Students’ upcoming campaign tackling copyright issues.

In the workshop “Students Organizing to Win”, delegates came to learn about how fellow members and activists from across the country have organized in their region. Issues discussed were Indigenous access to higher education through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), student organizing in a context of dramatic provincial austerity in Manitoba, student engagement in the recent Nova Scotia provincial election, fighting a tuition increase targeting future international and out-of-province students in Newfoundland and Labrador, and student-worker solidarity in the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign in support of striking food service workers at York University. The presenters gave delegates great examples of how students can organize on campus to fight for their demands and win.

Breana Ross, President of the United States Student Association, ended day three with a workshop on grassroots organizing. In this workshop, Ross talked about strengthening one’s own power to have a winning strategy and challenged delegates to be comfortable with the idea of power because students need to be aware of the power they have if they want to win. She outlined concrete ways for students to exercise their power through the use of resources, allies and tactics. Her workshop was an inspiring way to end the third day of the General Meeting and energized delegates for the last day.