CASA debate put to rest – for now

Members of the STUSU vote against moving to associate member status in CASA last Thursday. STUSU voted nine to four to stay as a full member of the lobbying organization. (Shane Magee/AQ)

After all the heated debates, emotions, meetings, reports and recommendations, the multi-year effort to move to associate membership status in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has failed.

Faces became red and voices became louder than normal at times in back-and-forth exchanges, but the debate remained civil and focused on substance, unlike those of the past.

“I feel that we’ve all made our views very clear,” said vice-president student life Alex Vietinghoff after 49 minutes of discussion.

He used a procedural motion to call for an end to debate and force the vote.

Three hands jumped into the air – vice-president education Craig Mazerolle, vice-president administration Mary-Dan Johnston, and off-campus representative Ella Henry voted in favour of moving to associate membership.

Colin Belyea, another off-campus representative, also voted in favour, but had given his vote to the chair when he left the meeting earlier.

Then came those opposed, but it was a foregone conclusion. Nine members voted to stay in the federal post-secondary education lobbying organization.

And with that, it was over.

For Henry, Mazerolle and Johnston, who have been on the union together since 2009, it brings an end to an issue they’ve constantly brought to the table.

“I don’t think we should turn it into a life-or-death debate here,” Henry said before the vote.

“It’s a tense issue, but at the end of the day, I’m graduating in a month and moving on and would love to do other things.”

Mazerolle has expressed similar sentiments in the past, saying he just wanted a vote to happen.

He made the vote a campaign promise when he ran for re-election last year.

“I just really want to have the vote,“ he said in a February interview.

“I just want to put it out there. If we move to associate membership great, if it doesn’t, fine.

“That’s why we have an elected body to make these decisions.”

It’s unlikely membership will become a significant issue again next year based on the views of the incoming STUSU executive.

Three members of the new executive attended the vote.

Future president John Hoben, who is now an off-campus representative, voted to stay as a full member.

Incoming vice-president education Alex Driscoll, who holds the position which mainly deals with CASA, was not at the vote.

He campaigned on staying a member of the organization.

Last week, Mazerolle did have some final advice.

“I would really caution for next year’s council – if you think this is something you want to evaluate – it is incredibly difficult to evaluate something of this magnitude. It really takes lots of commitment. It isn’t something you can have a one page write-up [about].

“It has been my experience that after many information sessions, many visits with CASA staff and elected officials, it is very difficult to engage council unless there are votes in their faces.”

 

Correction: In the print edition photo caption the vote count was incorrect. The vote was four  in favour of associate membership, nine against.

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