UPDATED – Dalhousie Student Union reconsidering membership in CASA, StudentsNS

Members of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) council are questioning the value of the union’s membership in both the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS). According to an article in the Dalhousie Gazette, representatives from both student organizations were present during the January 23 council meeting to make the case for continued membership.

According to the minutes of the March 27, 2013 DSU council meeting, a motion was passed to downgrade DSU’s membership in CASA from full status to associate status. A page on the DSU’s website gives a brief explanation of the situation as it currently stands. This followed an earlier presentation given by Zach Daylor, former CASA National Director, to the DSU council.

The Dalhousie Gazette published another article earlier in January which discussed a report, prepared by the Advocacy Review Committee, which was presented during a December 4, 2013 DSU Council meeting. In a response to an email inquiry, Aaron Beale (DSU’s vice president education) informed me that “the report is not public yet” but would be passed along to me when it is.

The DSU has posted its annual general meeting agenda which is scheduled to take place tomorrow, February 12, 2014. In the meeting package, the following constitutional amendment is proposed regarding “external advocacy”:

Motion: BIRT The Constitution be amended in the following way: (red
denotes changes)

By-law VII – Other Organizations

5. The union shall not enter into an agreement, partnership and/or
membership with an external advocacy group where the external
organization’s by-laws, policy and/or constitution propose to supersede those
of the Union.

6. The Union shall not renounce its full membership within an external
advocacy group unless a successful referendum is run according to By-law XIV of the Constitution in which the result is in favor of renouncing its full membership with its external federal advocacy group. the appropriate process consistent with that organization’s bylaws is followed. Editor’s Note: This constitutional amendment was recommended by the DSU Advocacy Review Committee, in its exact form, and appears on page page 58 of the committee’s report.

7. The Union shall not enter into any new agreements or partnerships with
external advocacy group including but not limited to, the Canadian Alliance of
Student Associations (CASA) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS),
unless a successful referendum is run according to By-law XIV of the
Constitution in which the result is in favor of joining an external federal
advocacy group.

8. Any proposal to join an external advocacy group shall first be subject to a full review of legal, operational, and financial considerations by the Board of Operations prior to coming forward to Council.

8. The Union may change its existing membership level within an external advocacy group through a vote at Council, provided Council has been provided with thirty (30) days notice, and the information made public via the DSU website, and the Board of Operations has reviewed the proposal for operational, financial, and legal considerations.

We look forward to reading the Advocacy Review Committee’s report in the near future. We’ll continue follow this story and report on future developments.

UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2014

Studentunion.ca has obtained the DSU Advocacy Review Committee’s report simply entitled Strengthening Advocacy. In its conclusion, the report states: “Students Nova Scotia and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations have significant misalignments with the DSU in terms of their overall approach and their vision of post-secondary education.” It goes on to say that:

… the risks of remaining in the organizations outweigh any risks associated with independent advocacy strategies while offering greater benefits in terms of available advocacy strategies, quality of policy recommendations, and increasing the ability of the Dalhousie Student Union to represent students to the provincial and federal government.

The committee report then goes on to recommend that the DSU council determine its status within both external organizations and proposes the following motions (Only the “Be it resolved” portions of the motions will be reproduced here; The entirety of the motions can be found at pages 58-59 of the report):

Motion 1: DSU Membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

Be it therefore resolved that the Dalhousie Student Union terminate its membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Any unpaid membership dues for the 2014 winter semester shall be paid to the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

Motion 2: DSU Membership in Students Nova Scotia

Be it therefore resolved that the Dalhousie Student Union terminate its membership in Students Nova Scotia. Any unpaid membership dues for the 2014 winter semester shall be paid to Students Nova Scotia.

More to come…