Wednesday, February 04, 2004

YFS Councillor: "F*** Off! You can put that in your notes"

Written by Aliza Libman - Assistant News Editor
Excalibur - Wednesday, 4 February 2004

The newly elected York Federation of Students (YFS) council held their first meeting last Wednesday night in a controversial session that ended with one member running out screaming obscenities.

In stark contrast to past YFS meetings, which typically started hours late and failed to address most agenda items, Wednesday’s meeting began on time and moved through all agenda items.

“In three hours we went through 13 agenda items. We’ve already come through on almost half of our promises,” says president Paul Cooper, who adds that “our salaries are going down by 10 per cent on Tuesday [February 10]”.

Controversial agenda items included the removal of two councillors, a motion to de-federate from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and a contract with a nationwide marketing company that would bring free copies of the National Post to York.

The motion to look into de-federating from the CFS was raised by vice-president external Alan Kan.“We get very little back from this organization,” Kan said, and proposed to investigate other student unions, such as the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, which he feels might serve York students better. Many members of the Progress Not Politics (PNP) slate supported the motion, saying that their mandate to de-politicize the YFS includes de-federation.

“The CFS is an extremist fringe group [that] embodies everything that is wrong with this YFS,” said Cooper.

Some council members opposed the motion though, citing the fact that PNP did not campaign on the issue of de-federation.

“What sort of consultation has been done?” asked Keele councillor Nick Freedman. Other councillors proposed that a referendum of York students be held before de-federation is pursued, and claimed that the CFS has served students very well in the past.

“They’ve been responsible for a lot of very positive things,” said Founders College president Curtis Phills.

The CFS is widely credited for their role in pressuring the Liberals for the two-year domestic tuition freeze. The supplementary fee students pay to the CFS is currently $0.24 per credit, which totals $28.80 for a student who does a full 120-credit degree at York.

The meeting also declared the seats of Glendon councillors Ron Fiedtkou and Hossein Samiian vacant, allegedly in accordance with YFS by-laws, which state that a seat can be declared vacant if the councillor misses three meetings in a semester.

There was some debate regarding whether this removal contravened a Glendon-YFS agreement that requires removals be done in conjunction with the president of the Glendon College Students Union (GCSU), which was further complicated by Fiedtkou’s position as GCSU president.

Fiedtkou and Samiian were elected to council in March 2002, and had remained in their positions following the elections, since no one ran for the position.

Acting speaker Kiley Thompson ruled that the removal could proceed, despite the objections of a number of members.

“There [has] been no opportunity for the members to defend themselves,” said Freedman, to which Cooper responded, “If they were interested, they would have run for the position in the election, and they would have been here.”

Neither Samiian nor Fiedtkou were present during the vote, though Fiedtkou arrived after the removal had already happened. “I’m not upset,” he says. “It was expected.” Fiedtkou notes that he plans to be involved in the appointment of new councillors to the vacant positions, as the contract requires.

The council also voted to pursue a contract with Clegg Campus Marketing, to bring racks with free copies of the National Post to campus, which Cooper brought forward as a financial benefit to students and an opportunity for further diversity of media on campus.

“In university, debate and discourse is very important,” Cooper said.

The motion came under fire from representatives of campus papers, who attended the meeting. The representatives asked Cooper what provisions would be added to ensure space for York’s 16 campus papers.

Representatives also expressed concern, asking if the added revenue from the contract would be used to compensate campus papers for lost advertising revenues and lower circulation. Cooper then stated that members of York University Press, the campus media collective, would be involved in the negotiations process.

The council halted any further funding to the campus paper Critical Times, calling it too political, and created a special commission on the by-laws, headed by Yaakov Roth. Calumet councillor Alon Hacohen was appointed to the commission.

Other actions taken were to appoint members to the Security, Parking and Transportation and Office Décor committees, and to move to hire lawyers and a policy consultant.

The three-and-a-half-hour meeting ended with several councillors and former councillors upset over the motions that were passed, including Atkinson vice-president Shamini Selvaratnam, who told the council to “fuck off! You can put that in your notes.”


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