Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
In March of 2004, graduate students at Brock voted to become members of the Canadian Federation of Students . In 2011-2012 full-time graduate students pay a fee of $7.50 per term, and part-time graduate students pay $3.75 per term.
The Canadian Federation of Students was formed in 1981 to provide students with an effective and united voice, provincially and nationally. Students recognized that to be truly effective in representing their collective interests to the federal and provincial governments, it was vital to unite under one banner.
Today, the Federation is composed of over one-half million students from more than 75 university and college students’ unions across Canada.
The Federation was founded with the following aims and objectives:
* To organize students on a democratic, co-operative basis in advancing our interests and those of our community;
* To provide a common framework within which students can communicate, exchange information, and share experiences, skills and ideas;
* To ensure the effective use and distribution of the resources of the student movement
* To bring students together to discuss and to achieve necessary educational, administrative, or legislative change wherever decision-making affects students;
* To facilitate co-operation among students in organizing services that supplement our academic experience, provide for our human needs and that develop a sense of community with our peers and other members of society;
* To articulate the real desire of students to fulfill the duties, and be accorded the rights of citizens in our society and in the international community;
* To achieve our ultimate goal – a system of post-secondary education that is accessible to all, which is of high quality, which is nationally planned, which recognizes the legitimacy of student representation and the validity of student rights, and whose role in society is clearly recognized and appreciated.
Since its founding in 1981, the Federation has remained committed to these objectives.
Road to Success
For a student organization to be successful at influencing government policy it must produce quality research, develop relationships with government, and demonstrate that there is public support for its issues.
Research: Thorough, accurate and in-depth research is required to support any proposal presented to government. The Canadian Federation of Students studies and prepares analyses of government policies and trends in post-secondary education, and develops alternatives to government policy.
Lobbying: The Federation’s primary purpose is to represent student issues and concerns to government. The Federation's message is conveyed through regular contact with elected and non-elected officials and focused media campaigns. In Canada, most post-secondary education financing is provided by the federal government and administered at the provincial level. Government policies and priorities determine the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada. Thus, the Federation employs a government relations strategy that targets both federal and provincial levels of government.
Action: Of course, regular meetings with government and the very best research will have little impact unless the government believes a proposal has widespread public support. The Federation demonstrates this support through the participation of its members and community allies in activities ranging from petition drives to mass rallies.
Strength in Numbers
No individual students’ union, no matter how big or active, has the resources or the political clout to effectively influence the post-secondary education policies of the provincial and federal governments. At best, an individual students’ union could have an impact on only a few federal electoral ridings. Governments ignore groups that pose no political threat to them. It is also much more cost effective for a large number of students’ unions to pool their resources and work in cooperation than for each to work on its own. The Federation serves this purpose, giving students’ unions across the country a united voice and influence in Ottawa.
The Federation also enables students’ unions to collectively pool their resources to provide student owned and operated services such as the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), the Studentsaver Card and the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP).
Each member students’ union has an equal say in setting the policies, direction and priorities of the Federation, including how funds are spent. All major decisions are made at provincial and national congresses at which every member students’ union has a vote.