Students’ society hopes to hold membership referendum by end of next semester

VICTORIA (CUP) — The University of Victoria students’ society has filed a court petition in an effort to conduct a referendum on continuing their membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.

“The petition was filed [Nov. 15] and served [Nov. 16], essentially asking that the courts recognize that the requirements for having a referendum were fulfilled under the bylaws of the CFS,” said society chairperson James Coccola. “Under their own bylaws they should be granting us a referendum. It’s our hope that we have a referendum by the end of next semester.”

The students’ society first submitted a petition requesting a referendum to the CFS last October. The validity of the petition has been an item of dispute between the society and the CFS ever since.

Coccola emphasized that the UVSS does not want to actually end up in court.

“It’s our hope that this gets settled out of court, obviously,” he said. “Neither organization benefits from spending a lot of money in court.”

The society has also sent a motion to the upcoming CFS national general meeting, to be held in Ottawa later this month, asking that their petition be recognized as valid.

Coccola is hopeful that the motion will pass.

“It’s possible that the membership of the CFS could recognize that the petition is valid and under the CFS bylaws we should be getting a referendum,” he said. “So that’s one avenue.”

Currently, the society has $15,000 budgeted for a referendum on CFS membership. However, the process of actually obtaining a referendum could cost much more if the matter ends up in court.

Schools that have gone to court to obtain referenda have spent hundreds of thousands in legal fees. The University of Guelph, who won the right to hold a referendum last spring, released financial documents in early November stating the students’ association had spent over $200,000 in legal fees to date.

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