UMSU polling referendum interest

Union asks how students would spend Canadian Federation of Students fees

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In its ongoing bid to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, UMSU has set up a website encouraging students to “demand better” use of their fees.

The website, demandbetter.ca, notes U of M students have spent over $4 million on fees to the Canadian Federation of Students since 2007. Members of UMSU currently pay $7.61 per term to the federation.

The UMSU board of directors voted against affirming membership in the Canadian Federation of Students in November and recommended the union instead join the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

Students who submit their name, email address and a message explaining what they would like UMSU to use the fees for are entered to win a $100 SkipTheDishes gift card.

UMSU president Jakob Sanderson has said should the union leave the Canadian Federation of Students, UMSU could re-allocate the funds into joining CASA and provide in-house advocacy services critics say the union would lose by leaving the federation.

However, should students vote to leave the federation, UMSU will have to hold another referendum to decide whether or not students will re-invest the money into other arenas.

“For us to re-invest that money it will require UMSU to allocate a new levy, and now, with the changes to the UMSU Act, we can’t do that without a referendum,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do with the ‘Demand Better’ campaign is that, obviously our goal is to leave the Canadian Federation of Students and to have that second referendum, and we want to know, that whatever we decide to give students, that option to re-allocate the money toward is something that students really want,” he said.

Sanderson said the goal of setting up the website was not to gather signatures or petition students — UMSU must collect signatures from 15 per cent of the student body for the referendum to move forward — but to gauge interest from the student body.

“In reality, this entire campaign here is about student choice.”