The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Kwantlen Student Association Wednesday morning, putting an end to a two-year dispute over the Canadian Federation of Students-B.C. Component’s refusal to accept Derek Robertson, the student associations’s representative, on its board of directors.
Madame Justice Brown’s decision, stated that the CFS-BC board of directors was in violation of section 24 of the Society Act-BC and the CFS-BC’s own bylaws. The ruling set a precedent that bars societies in B.C. from applying provisions beyond those set in the Society Act-B.C. to determine qualification for appointment to a board of directors or membership of a society.
Brown awarded the KSA with Robertson’s appointment to the board of directors and legal costs associated with the court petition.
“We’re perplexed,” said Shamus Reid, chairperson for the CFS-BC. “The B.C. Society Act provides that directors of society are legally responsible for protecting the society from harm.”
Robertson, director of external affairs for the KSA and ex-officio representative for the CFS-BC, held office on the board of directors for the CFS-BC previous to a conflict of interest in February 2008, when he resigned to campaign to have the KSA leave the CFS.
Following a referendum, which reaffirmed Kwantlen students’ interest in remaining members of the CFS, Robertson’s nomination to rejoin the board of directors was not ratified by the CFS-BC.
“He intended to do damage to society in all comments. The only check against that is the ratification process,” said Reid.
Many other societies in B.C. have a dual ratification process, he added. “This ruling will have a profound negative consequence for societies all across B.C.”
Robertson said he is thrilled about the decision. “I’ve been quite discouraged by the fact that Kwantlen has been without a representative for almost two years. I have to keep in mind that I do now have obligations to both societies. I am there to represent the views of Kwantlen students and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
He admitted that he doubts Kwantlen students will notice any difference in benefits from their CFS membership. “A representative on the board of directors is simply a symbolic thing… The CFS will go on with business as usual.”
Reid is also concerned about whether Kwantlen students will see any improvement in the benefits they receive. He said Robertson has made it difficult for the CFS to be on campus but it will be a priority to ensure that members have access to services they are entitled to “regardless of whether the local leadership is being antagonistic.”
“I don’t like to speculate on the judge’s background and experience, but I certainly think that this ruling doesn’t show a familiarity with the societies system within B.C.,” he said. “Any court ruling that overturns the democratic rule of a majority ruling is not in the best interest of society so we don’t think that is an appropriate ruling to make.”
Robertson considered the court battle, which included screenshots of his membership in anti-CFS Facebook groups, “a hail Mary.” The KSA focused on the law in the Society Act regarding requirements for being a director of a society, he said.
“The CFS cannot prevent diverging views from the board of directors anymore, which I’m sure they’ve been doing.”
The CFS-BC is honouring the ruling but will be “evaluating our legal options,” said Reid, hinting at the possibility of an appeal.
“We accept that at this point Mr. Robertson is the director and we certainly expect that he will uphold his responsibilities, though I believe that he has shown inability to do that in the past,” he said.
Robertson’s current term as director of external affairs and ex-officio representative for the CFS-BC will end on March 31, 2010.
The explosion of personal information on the Internet is leading to â€œFacebook creeping,â€ new reasons for being fired, and, according to a Kwantlen sociology instructor, public humiliation.
â€œ[Young people are] more inclined to invade other peopleâ€™s privacy without feeling invasive about it,â€ said Annette Reynolds.
â€œThereâ€™s a tendency to feel like you can cross social barriers because thereâ€™s an anonymity. Thatâ€™s a kind of cyber-bullying,â€ Reynolds said, remembering a time when she read hurtful comments on the teacher-rating web site RateMyProfessors. com.
Cyber-bullying is a rising trend, according to a Microsoft Canada Youthography Internet Safety survey released in February. The survey of people from nine to 17 years old found that 40 per cent of Canadian youth had been bullied online, up from 25 per cent in 2004. It also reported that 60 per cent of youth believe people bully because it is â€œcool.â€ More than half of the 16 per cent who said they have cyber-bullied another youth said there were no consequences to their bullying.
â€œPublic humiliation is a form of entertainment,â€ said Reynolds.
Bullying is one of the side effects of an information free-for-all that includes blogs about peopleâ€™s personal lives, YouTube videos featuring friends, and Facebook pages full of personal info. Privacy has a different meaning than it used to.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s fair to say kids today donâ€™t care about their privacy,â€ said Micheal Vonn, B.C. Civil Liberties Association policy director. â€œPrevious generations never had to think about this stuff because the system was so different.â€
In the past, privacy was provided by default before technological advances introduced a plethora of information databases. Now that personal information is required in order to access many Internet services, people must choose between those services and privacy. â€œWhat we really want is control,â€ said Vonn.
The government hasnâ€™t hesitated to take advantage of the new opportunities for control, either. Technology-based surveillance, called dataveillance, is increasing as a form of policing and is a worrisome opportunity for state control, she said.
â€œThe new policing philosophy is, â€˜Why donâ€™t we just know a whole lot about everybody all the time. Then weâ€™ll be able to do a risk assessment.â€™â€
Knowing a lot about everybody all the time applies to personal relationships, too. A University of Guelph study released in August indicated that the more time a person spends on Facebook, the more likely they are to become jealous of their significant other because of overexposure to triggers. A person may become alarmed by a comment from someone saying â€œIt was great to see you,â€ become jealous, and begin â€œFacebook creepingâ€ that commentatorâ€™s profile for more information.
This trend in â€œFacebook creepingâ€ leads to suspicions, just as government dataveillance does.
â€œ[Data] starts to take on a reality and a life of its own… regardless of if youâ€™ve done anything wrong,â€ said Vonn.
Employers are pursuing control too, said Michael Cox, who believes he was fired from a probationary bus-driver position with Coast Mountain Bus Company in January because of his blog.
â€œThe company was sensitive to any kind of criticism and certainly sensitive to internal criticism,â€ Cox said. His blog included information about transit troubles during last winterâ€™s snowstorms. â€œI think part of it was they wanted to make an example of me.â€
He advised bloggers and social media users to speak their minds but remember that their words could affect them professionally. â€œThere is no such thing as true freedom of the press or true freedom of expression. Thereâ€™s always going to be a limit.â€
The costs of censoring personal information that is being published online, such as reduced freedom of speech, need to be weighed against the benefits, which include retaining a job. In todayâ€™s digital age, the ability to avoid having personal details on the Internet isnâ€™t always there. â€œThe only way to remain a truly private individual would be to only purchase using cash and to be an electronic hermit,â€ said Cox.
Itâ€™s difficult to remain an electronic hermit, and one result is identity theft. Equifax Canada fraud specialist Vanessas Guillani told the Globe and Mail in June that identity theft went up 500 per cent from 1998 to 2003.
Identity theft is a big problem, but personal problems with identity itself are also on the rise. People can take on various identities through social media, which can result in a loss of self, according to Vonn. Internet game Second Life, which mimics real-world activities, including earning income and building relationships, has been featured in the news as a harbinger of real-life problems. A number of game users have adopted their character and attempted to create a perfect life, only to lose their jobs, friends and family. Some have fallen in love with virtual characters only to learn that the real person was not what they expected.
Sidebar: How to protect yourself
â€¢ Read privacy contracts, particularly those regarding health, credit-card and banking information.
â€¢ Ask questions or refuse to sign things that donâ€™t seem worth it.
â€¢ Consider the implications of your pictures, thoughts and videos before you post them.
â€¢ Know your employerâ€™s policies concerning social media.
â€¢ Remember that once you publish something online, you can never get it back.
Cloverdale streets were decked out with Christmas lights, crammed with people and covered in decorated semi tractor-trailers and trucks on Dec. 6 at Hawthorne Square.
The Santaâ€™s Parade of Lights, put on by the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association (BIA) in partnership with the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, is one of five annual events held in the area to maintain Cloverdaleâ€™s historic small-town identity and strengthen the sense of community.
The Cloverdale BIA was expecting a crowd of 7,000 people to line the streets for the parade, out of a population of only 55,000 people in the small section of Surrey. The area was once entirely farmland, and is still sustained by blueberry crops, but is now considered a peri-urban community (an area adjoining an urban space), because of its location at the centre of a rapidly growing city.
The growth has caused the Cloverdale BIA to create guidelines and larger-scale plans of action to promote the areaâ€™s historical western identity, which is the foundation for the local economy. Cloverdale does not have any above-ground parking, parking meters or big-box businesses, which helps maintain the small-town culture.
â€œ[Cloverdale] is filling in and growing at an unbelievable rate, unmatched about anywhere in B.C.,â€ said Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA.
One way that the BIA is responding to urbanization is by adding a social-responsibility aspect to the parades and festivals. This is the third year that the holiday parade was collecting donations for the Surrey Christmas Bureau and the Surrey Food Bank, with a goal of collecting $5,000 and two-and-a-half tons of food for the food bank.
â€œCharity has taken a much higher profile,â€ said Orazietti, adding that homelessness is a growing problem in Cloverdale. At one point, over 50 people were living in the town centre, he said.
The events serve to bring locals together and promote opportunities to give back, but they also exemplify Cloverdaleâ€™s identity to nonresidents.
Stores are decorated, businesses are welcoming â€“ itâ€™s all part of a plan to encourage outsiders to feel like they are a part of the community, too.
Economically, Cloverdale is challenged by its avoidance of large stores such as Safeway, whose nearest location is in Langley. But small-town values have led the BIA to resist the introduction of such businesses, preferring to support local businesses instead. These steps aim to protect the communityâ€™s assets while events build sustainability, he said.
Cloverdale is on a path that may head towards transformed economy and increased symbolism, as small-town community features become replaced with modern infrastructure, according to Jacqueline Mulcahy, member of the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission and a post-graduate urban-studies student at Simon Fraser University.
The community may find itself using street signage and banner programs as a reminder of the original identity, as was done in North Vancouver, if the rapid population growth continues, said Mulcahy.
â€œItâ€™s impossible for communities to resist [change],â€ she said. “A sense of identity is necessary in any community.
â€œYou have to have some means of a discourse,â€ Mulcahy said. â€œIf you donâ€™t have a sense of collective identity, itâ€™s very difficult to have political engagement and itâ€™s difficult to have a consensus.â€
Individuals in the area are also realizing that parades and festivals are a good way to help the younger generation plug into Cloverdaleâ€™s traditional values and history. Rick Hughes, the vice-president of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School, is trying to encourage youth to get involved in organizing parades, sports camps and other local events.
â€œItâ€™s up to my generation to make sure that weâ€™re passing all this into succeeding generations,â€ said Hughes. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of young folks out there that think, â€˜Well, Iâ€™ll do it if thereâ€™s an immediate payoffâ€™ instead of â€˜Iâ€™ll do it if itâ€™s helping somebody out.â€™â€
Hughes has lived in Cloverdale his entire life, and has helped organize parades, the rodeo and the creation of Surrey Museum over the last half-century. When he was a child, all of his neighbours knew each other, but that is not the case anymore, though there are still some core families that remain. He welcomes different ideas and lifestyles, but added, â€œItâ€™s important to remember the things that got you where you are.â€
After months of monitoring the southern hemisphere’s H1N1 cases, Fraser Health has determined 40 per cent of the world’s population will catch H1N1 before next April.
The number is twice the yearly 20 per cent seasonal flue infection rate, according to Dr. Roland Guasparini, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer.
“The vast majority are going to have a mild, self-limiting illness,” Guasparini said. “[But] the flu’s not really mild. You will feel like you get hit with a truck.”
Fraser Health based its estimate on the number of cases that have been reported in the southern hemisphere. As winter and the flu season comes to an end there, the infection rate offers a glimpse into what residents of the northern hemisphere should expect.
Guasparini said Fraser Health has been planning for a severe pandemic for many years, expecting it to surface at any time. The summer arrival of the H1N1 flu suggests that the virus will peak early, over the next eight to 12 weeks, and taper off by December.
The health unit has spent most of its time planning for a worst-case scenario including 200 intensive-care patients, more than Fraser Health facilities can currently house.
To prepare, it has planned alternative treatment sites, purchased additional ventilators and decided how to staff additional health care locations.
“But we’re not going to see that worst-case scenario,” said Guasparini. “We’re expecting, based on the southern hemisphere, that we’ll be able to manage the hospital cases as usual.”
H1N1 is a contagious disease, he explained, so â€œthe attack rate will be the same regardless of the severity of the symptoms.â€ A mild disease could, however, allow H1N1 to spread more widely than expected if infected people donâ€™t remain home until they recover.
Current concern is for the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions. Those who fall into these categories are at a high risk for severe illness until they receive the H1N1 vaccination, which will not be available until November.
â€œWeâ€™re hoping . . . we just have a seasonal flu year, but the nice thing about all the media attention is that itâ€™s just brought attention to safety conditions,â€ said Guasparini.
The message about hand-washing, coughing into a shirt sleeve and staying home when sick â€œhas hit home in a big way.â€
He said the media is doing a great job of accurately presenting H1N1 facts. Public-health workers are dealing with the additional strain of responding to patientsâ€™ concerns, but the attention devoted to understanding the threats and safety procedures is a new and welcome phenomena.
During previous pandemics, the methods of communication were far more limited.
Guasparini said the international attention and response is a testimony to the system health officials have for monitoring and responding to infectious diseases.
â€œPeople are not scared, they just kinda focused their attention.â€
Don MacLachlan, former managing editor at the Province and former director of public relations for Fraser Health, agreed that media has â€œbeen doing a very responsible job.â€
MacLachlan said the public perceives H1N1 as a problem, and its status as a pandemic means it is, so the media is rightly informing people about it.
A number of rumours have cropped up since H1N1 first appeared, leaving some people hesitant to trust media coverage. Bulletins have been issued debunking beliefs that H1N1 can be contracted by eating pork, that entire villages in Asia were being wiped out and that the coverage is only hype. But the myths arenâ€™t from the mainstream media, said MacLachlan.
â€œPeople arenâ€™t reading or listening to traditional media news. They get news from Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and they treat that as the definitive truth.â€
The media attention has pushed some towards fear or skepticism about the reality of the threat. MacLachlan attributed any â€œexaggerated state of concern or panicâ€ to individuals who are receiving the mediaâ€™s messages. He added that â€œpeople are hearing and reacting responsibly to responsible messages.â€
Beer budgets are going bust in the economy downturn that is forcing students to forgo their usual entertainment expenditures.
Students are doing “anything to save money,” said Lindsay Meredith, SFU marketing professor and consumer-behaviour expert.
Luxuries, such as cars and dining out, are the first things to go. “God forbid, the beer budget may take a bust as well,” said Meredith.
Things as basic as a movie night can turn into serious money in a climate that’s forcing students to postpone any optional purchases. Students are shifting toward home entertainment, a trend Meredith calls cocooning.
Renting or downloading movies, house-to-house visiting and house parties are all on the rise, he said.
Meredith suggested considering laptop, iPod and cellphone costs seriously. “A lot of students insist on carrying that cellphone, but maybe that’s one of the things that should be dumped.”
Ten out of 15 students surveyed by the Chronicle said there’s no way they’d give up their cellphones to save money. Their monthly cell-phone bills average $70.
â€œPlaying in the technology pool costs money,â€ said Meredith. â€œSo if entertainment has to be provided by a technology medium, youâ€™re going to have to pay for that. Get your head around trying to entertain each other.â€
Azad Haddad, a 19-year-old engineering student, said he would ditch his phone in a heartbeat. â€œWhy not?â€ he asked. â€œIâ€™ve done it before. Communication is crucial these days but money comes first.â€ He said cell conversations are extra talk that eats up time with few benefits, when face-to-face conversations are a better alternative.
â€œ[My days without my cell phone were] the best days of my life, having no headaches, no phone calls, nothing to worry about.â€
Students get hammered by the recession, but other young adults fare better. Young adults in the work force are vulnerable to rising unemployment rates, but they are not tied down by the massive debt some students accumulate.
Students are expected to return to their night-out-on-the-town habits after the economy rebounds. Meredith said people do not give up established lifestyle habits easily.
More than half of the 50 Kwantlen students polled said that their entertainment consists of watching television or movies or using the computer.
Introduction: The Institue for Sustainable Horticulture
A video interview with Deborah Henderson, director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture.
The program: Experiments, hands-on experience drive program, students
At Kwantlenâ€™s School of Horticulture, modern-day environment concerns meet experimentation and hands-on experience.
The school, located at the Langley campus, has assumed a high profile in recent years for its innovation in the field of horticulture.
The Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, a research laboratory which opened in October, received millions of dollars in government funding for its initiative to breed insect, fungus and viral bio-controls that have the potential to replace chemical pesticides as eco-friendly alternatives.
Another project, the construction of a geothermal-heated greenhouse that aims to cut the use of electrical power in Kwantlen greenhouses, is currently in progress. And recently, the school was recognized for installing a â€œgreen roofâ€ at the new Salvation Army Gateway of Hope shelter adjoining the campus. The roof will provide food and herbs for the shelterâ€™s kitchen, moderate storm-water runoff and increase building energy efficiency.
Students at the school also regularly participate in experiments testing products such as fertilizers for local companies.
â€œItâ€™s so important for people to understand what horticulturalists do,â€ said Michael Cain, a practical horticulture apprentice. â€œYou need plants to grow and be healthy for the Earth as a whole to be sustainable.â€
The four-level apprenticeship program, which runs from November to March during the industryâ€™s off-season, gives students hands-on experience in plant-growth, irrigation, machine maintenance and other field work. The apprenticeship students are all currently working in the industry and returned to school to add education to their experience. The program gives students the option to study production horticulture (which focuses on nurseries), propagation and plant-growth or landscape horticulture (which focuses on turf management, design and machine maintenance), after the first two levels of core courses in science.
The school also offers a degree in integrated pest management; diplomas in greenhouse nursery and production, landscape design and installation, and turf management; and 11 different citations.
Cain, superintendent of Guildford Golf & Country Club, is optimistic about the future for horticulturalists. â€œEveryoneâ€™s going green now,â€ so knowledge about growing healthy plants is invaluable, he said.
Landscape horticulture received a Red Seal approval in several provinces, including B.C., in 2008. Apprentices now fulfill government testing to receive a Red Seal journeyman ticket upon graduation, which legitimizes the industry as a trade and provides a national license to operate.
â€œAnyone could call themselves a landscaper at one pointâ€¦ People were doing a lot of damage killing trees and planting stuff in the wrong places,â€ said the 37-year-old Cain. â€œNow, what youâ€™ll find when people start getting more qualified, is our landscapes will be more sustainable, grow healthier and bigger and be free of diseases and pests because theyâ€™re grown properly and maintained properly.â€
Cain found the School of Horticulture a good fit after 20 years of work in turf management. Two kids, a job and a mortgage limited his educational opportunities, but the timing of Kwantlenâ€™s apprenticeship program allowed him to continue to support his family during his education.
â€œI love that my office [at Guildford Golf & Country Club] is 150 acres of green space,â€ he said. â€œI just want to be a better steward of our environment.â€
Knowledge about plants, pest control, irrigation and machinery could potentially allow horticulturalists to grow plants, shrubs and trees that last for hundreds of years, said Cain.
â€œYouâ€™re never going to be richâ€¦ but itâ€™s a really rewarding career choice because youâ€™re surrounded by nature.â€
Horticulture students at work
The Kwantlen Student Associationâ€™s plan to introduce a U-Pass by September 2010 looks like a win-win for Kwantlen students.
The KSA, in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and Translink, hopes to have the green light on a U-Pass plan, which is still being formed, in time for a standalone referendum in April.
â€œI really do feel that this is possible,â€ said Derek Robertson, director of external affairs for the KSA.
Transit ridership among Kwantlen students is estimated to be at only about 20 to 25 per cent. That leaves a jaw-dropping majority of students who, at first glance, will be paying for a service that they wonâ€™t use. And at an open-for-discussion $20-a-month objective, thatâ€™s a lot of money that three-quarters of the student population will be paying so the others can get cheaper transit.
What good is a U-Pass to us, the drivers, bicyclers and students who are dropped off?
I contacted Translink and the Ministry of Transportation to get answers. Sappy answers.
â€œSome students who said they wouldnâ€™t use it do end up using it,â€ said Ken Hardie, director of communications at Translink. He also argued the merits of having a pre-paid ride home after drunken parties.
He even said â€œTranslink itself does not have plans to expand the U-Pass program,â€ because it was not organized in a manner that would allow widespread implementation. Rather, it is taking its cue from the Ministry of Transportation, where government officials are aiming to fulfill a campaign promise of a universal U-Pass by next September.
More parking spaces, lower fuel emissions and less traffic was the best that Linda Gold, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, could come up with.
Luckily, the KSA has their act together.
â€œWe cannot put a U-Pass to the students that benefits some but harms others,â€ said Robertson. The KSA will spend the next few months compiling results from this fallâ€™s U-Pass consultations and surveys to draft a proposal that will be discussed in meetings with the minister of transportation, Translink, local MPs and local MLAs.
The meetings will focus on “nonnegotiable” requirements for improvement to transit service before tentative agreements will be made. Robertson is planning to ask for improvements to transit service, which may involve requests for an increase in transit frequency and better campus, Skytrain and major urban centre connections.
Heâ€™ll also focus on adding extra services, including bike racks on transit, bike lockers on campus and regular on-campus bike clinics. Although there wonâ€™t be any opt-out for students, a carpool discount may be introduced with the condition that drivers be added to a registry that other students can use to discover local carpool pals.
Odds are good that Kwantlen will be receiving a U-Pass on the low end of the scale for colleges and universities in the U-Pass program, because the low ridership is subsidized by the greater student population. Currently, Translink charges students at the University of British Columbia $25 a month, the lowest price for any U-Pass in B.C., because of the schoolâ€™s low ridership at the time the program was initiated. At present, the KSA is leaning towards implementing the U-Pass for both full-time and part-time students, which they hope will help more part-time students to transition to full-time status.
Earlier this year, the KSA declined participation in OnePassNow talks, which pushed for a $25 U-Pass for all Metro Vancouver students, because the transit-improvement needs for Kwantlen students were greater than the needs of the student unions represented. Robertson feared that Emily Carr and Vancouver Community College would not act on Kwantlenâ€™s behalf to request transit improvements, and said that Kwantlen students would be paying for lower service than other participating colleges would receive.
â€œThey have arguably the best transit in the province,â€ he said. â€œThey are not seeking transit upgrades.â€
Robertson also explained that the age-old offer of a $19 U-Pass for Kwantlen students was turned down because there would not have been any transit upgrades, which rendered it useless to the better half of the student population.
The KSA wants the province introduce a U-Pass levied at different rates according to school ridership to make it revenue-neutral for Translink, as is currently done, but with a universal provincial subsidy to keep the price down.
The requirement for transit improvements is a good one. Iâ€™d gladly pay an extra $80 or so each semester for a shorter ride to campus. But thereâ€™s a lot of work to be done before transit service south of the Fraser River is worth a dime or two. The KSA doesnâ€™t have much time to move that mountain before its plan for a U-Pass vote by April passes Kwantlen students byÂ — again.
Kwantlen students will be waiting over two more months for CFS representation.
The KSA v. CFS-BC court petition, which will decide whether Kwantlenâ€™s elected ex-officio representative for the CFS-BC can join the executive committee, after the CFS-BC refused to ratify his nomination, has been bumped until January for administrative reasons.
The KSA has decided not to nominate another student to the CFS-BC executive committee.
The B.C. Supreme Court will resolve the issue in January on a date that is yet to be decided, while Kwantlen students, who voted to remain members of the CFS in 2008, continue to funnel $150,000 per year into the organization without receivingÂ representation.
For details on the lawsuit, see our original article.
Twelve of the 13 items on this Septemberâ€™s referendum ballot were approved, a result that the Kwantlen Student Association, who planned the referendum, never foresaw.
Student fees will increase $1.56 per credit for the spring, summer and fall 2010 semesters to fund the creation of student union buildings, the START volunteer program, the REBOOT computer service, intramurals and clubs and events. This means that full-time students registering for 15 credits should expect their spring semester bill to be $23.40 higher.
The KSA plans to begin START, REBOOT and intramural programs in January and is discussing holding a referendum asking students for permission to raise student fees more than 15 per cent per year to hasten the introduction of other items that were approved.
â€œThis is quite historic,â€ said Steven Lee, director of finance for the KSA. â€œThe KSA wasnâ€™t expecting all of [the referendum items] to pass. We wanted to see what students wanted us to do, so it was kind of a referendum slash opinion poll.â€
Fees collected for the student union fund will be put toward building planning and paying off the $1.6 million G-building mortgage from the 1990s, which was partially covered through the KSAâ€™s reserve funds last year. The clubs and events fee will be used to offset current clubs and events spending, which totaled over $150,000 last year.
Less than half of one per cent of Kwantlen students voted: 494 ballots were cast, surpassing the 250-minimum required to make referendum results binding.
The turnout was â€œquite good for a referendum,â€ said Lee.
The Canadian Federation of Students fee increase, the only item that failed, will not affect Kwantlenâ€™s CFS membership. The proposed increase was questioned by Shamus Reid, chairperson of the CFS-BC, as an amount he was not familiar with and something that would not normally appear on a referendum ballot.
â€œI donâ€™t know where that number came from,â€ he said.
Desmond Rodenbour, general manager of the KSA, said that the CFS adjusts membership fees for inflation every year and that the KSA reached the $1.78 fee increase by calculating the CFSâ€™ percentage increase.
After consulting the University Act and the College and Institute Act, the KSA determined that it has â€œno legal authority to increase student fees without a referendum,â€ said Rodenbour.
Lee believes the item failed because â€œthe students that voted are already familiar with the KSA, so they know how the CFS has been treating the KSA.â€ Everything else passed because â€œwe were able to get different people [campaigning] that were interested in different areas.â€
One-and-a-half years of bad blood between the Kwantlen Student Association and the Canadian Federation of Students, B.C. Component are about to culminate in a court battle set for Oct. 29 â€“ 30.
The KSA filed a court petition with B.C. Supreme Court in June to settle a dispute over the CFS-BCâ€™s refusal to ratify Kwantlenâ€™s elected CFS-BC representative in May 2008.
â€œNow we find ourselves going to court, but Iâ€™m not sure why,â€ said Shamus Reid, chairperson for the CFS-BC.
The CFS-BC did not ratify the nomination to appoint Derek Robertson, Kwantlenâ€™s elected director of external affairs and ex-officio representative for the CFS-BC, to the executive committee because of â€œactions that he took to deliberately undermine the CFS-BC,â€ said Reid.
â€œThat individual was unfit as a director. The executive committee felt he couldnâ€™t uphold his responsibilities as a director.â€
The CFS-BC suggested, prior to court proceedings, that the KSA nominate a different individual to the executive committee. â€œThe KSA has always had the opportunity to appoint another representative to the CFS,â€ said Reid.
Robertson said the KSA appealed to the courts for acknowledgement that the CFS-BC has no authority to disallow a member student bodyâ€™s elected representative from joining the executive committee. Doing so would set a precedent avoiding future ratification disputes and would place Robertson on the committee.
â€œIâ€™m not always just another CFS voice,â€ he said. â€œAt times I have been very critical of the organization, and I feel that the organization could be doing a much better job.â€
Robertson was a member of the CFS-BC executive committee until he resigned in February 2008 prior to a Kwantlen referendum on CFS membership. â€œI did not feel that I could be faithful to both organizations so I did the right thing and resigned,â€ he said.
After resigning, Robertson campaigned to convince students to vote against continued CFS membership. Reid said Robertson â€œwas not forthright about his participation in a campaign to undermine the federation.â€ Documents that show Robertson joining anti-CFS Facebook groups before his resignation are under consideration by the B.C. Supreme Court. Following the referendum, which reaffirmed Kwantlenâ€™s CFS membership, Robertson was re-elected and re-nominated as the CFS representative according to procedures guided by CFS bylaws but was not ratified by the executive committee, which is made up mostly by representatives from other B.C. post-secondary institutions.
The nomination and ratification processes are guided by provisions in the Societies Act and in CFS bylaws, which are being pitted against each other in the court case. While the Societies Act states that a director must act honestly and in a fitting manner, Desmond Rodenbour, general manager of the KSA, said this does not permit an organization to disqualify a person from a board of directors position if they believe someone does not have those qualities. A CFS bylaw states that the provincial executive representative shall be determined in a manner consistent with the bylaws of the local student association.
â€œThe problem is that the CFS is somewhat secretive and chooses not to publicly post many of their internal documents,â€ said Rodenbour, a sentiment that Robertson shares.
â€œFrankly, itâ€™s absurd for the CFS to climb in and say, â€˜Well yes, thereâ€™s a process, but thereâ€™s also another process which weâ€™re not gonna tell you about,â€™â€ said Robertson.
Rodenbour doesn’t want to elect another person to the position, calling it an issue of principle. â€œIf they honestly believe theyâ€™ll work best only with people that theyâ€™ll agree with, theyâ€™re missing the point of democracyâ€¦ If you only want one viewpoint, you can do that with one person.â€
The court petition, filed during the universityâ€™s summer session, has not been revealed to students through public announcements from either organization. But Kwantlen students will be paying legal fees for both sides of the battle.
Rodenbour said legal fees could range from $10,000 to $25,000, â€œa very reasonable cost to have the petition resolvedâ€ when compared to the $150,000 turned over to the CFS every year.
Robertson agreed, saying, â€œThe funny thing about this case is that Kwantlen students are being charged twice, because theyâ€™re getting charged once for legal fees with the KSA and theyâ€™re also being charged through membership dues to the CFS, which are going to this case.â€
CFS membership benefits during the period without representation are questionable, according to Rodenbour, who likened the fight to the United Statesâ€™ taxation without representation battle cry.
The CFS-BC is a liaison between B.C. post-secondary institutions and the government and lobbies for benefits including the reduction of tuition fees and student debt. â€œThe CFS continues to work on issues that Kwantlen has identified as priorities,â€ said Reid. â€œKwantlen students have given very clear direction that they want to work with other student unions all across Canadaâ€¦ Iâ€™m fairly mystified as to why the board of the KSA chose to [petition the court].â€
Meanwhile, signatures are being collected at Kwantlen campuses to call for another referendum giving students the option to defederate from the CFS this April, when the required two-year period following CFS membership referendums has ended.