On September 24, 2018 the University of Ottawa announced its intention to terminate its agreement with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), effective December 24, 2018. On November 8, 2018, the University indicated that it will have a third party hold a referendum on membership in the SFUO or another students’ union in the winter semester.
Pursuant to our members’ advisory dated September 26, 2018, the Canadian Federation of Students urges University of Ottawa undergraduate students to preserve their students’ union. While student frustration and lack of confidence in the SFUO have been communicated, we urge students (and the University) to keep the following considerations in mind:
- The SFUO is an incorporated institution with businesses, service centres, employees, contracts with vendors, is a signatory to the U-Pass agreement and holds the contract with the students’ health and dental plan provider. Attempting to dissolve an incorporated students’ union is a much different and more serious consideration than attempting to change its structure, leadership, branding, governance and/or financial policies.
- The University does not have the right to dissolve the corporation with its many contracts, employees and services and unilaterally assign them to a new entity.
Students are at risk of losing access to key services like the Womyn’s Centre, the Student Rights Centre, the Pride Centre, the RISE Centre and a health and dental coverage renewal for students after their current coverage with the SFUO expires in August 2019. SFUO is a hub on campus that provides vital services for students and provides numerous student jobs for its members.
Students are empowered through petitions, by-elections, general assemblies and direct action to call for democratic reforms of their student union, however the attempted dismantling of an entire students’ union by the University of Ottawa’s administration is an alarming and distinct consideration.
The Federation continues to oppose the University’s actions and demands they sign a new agreement with the SFUO, recognizing that change has to come democratically from members, including student union employees unionized with CUPE 4943 whose jobs are under threat.
The Federation urges undergraduate students at uOttawa to save their students’ union, however radically changed its members may want it to be. The best way to save the students’ union is democratically. With a General Assembly scheduled for December 4, we encourage students to determine next steps for the continued existence of their union.
Coty Zachariah (Chairperson)
Jade Byard Peek (Deputy Chairperson)
Trina James (Treasurer)