This letter was collaboratively written by the members of the Solidarity Halifax Student Caucus in response to the recent call by students at several universities for their student unions to de-federate from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), the country’s largest and most progressive student group.
The Solidarity Halifax Student Caucus is surprised and disappointed to hear that certain members of the radical left have chosen, yet again, to spend their efforts attacking the CFS instead of working to create collective solutions across sectarian lines.
As anti-capitalists firmly committed to building a stronger student movement in our city and region, we are in disbelief at the short-sightedness of those who would rather start an entirely new organization than build on one that, while flawed has consistently been an indispensable voice for student issues in this country.
In these times where austerity and neo-liberal reforms to our education system have become so prevalent and destructive, it frustrates us to see that certain members of the student movement are shouting into the echo chamber of the radical fringe instead of focusing on building broad based and popular support for a united student movement.
We would like to remind the writers of this press release that, were it not for our nation-wide progressive student federation, the student movement in this country might very well be facing the same situation as our U.S counterparts: fragmentation and a loss of political power at the national and regional levels, leading to significantly worse conditions for students everywhere.
We in the Solidarity Halifax Student Caucus are not prepared to weaken the student movement during this critical time so that the grievances of a few student leaders can be entertained. In fact, many of us have been in attendance at CFS General Meetings when these attempts at ‘reform’ were initiated. Put simply, these reforms received a fair hearing from the general membership, but were ultimately defeated. That is what it means to be part of a democratic organization; sometimes your argument loses. This is not a reason to leave; instead it is an opportunity to understand the diversity of a nation-wide organization and work to convince other students of your argument.
Despite the accusations hurled at the Canadian Federation of Students, some of which are worthy of discussion and debate, in the Maritimes we see an anti-war, pro-feminist student organization that is committed to the elimination of tuition as well worth our continued involvement. The time to reinvent the wheel is not now nor do we trust the ability for the writers of this letter to organize a comparable student group that would be any less problematic.
We sincerely hope that, despite the vitriol involved in this critique of the CFS, the various camps involved do not descend into bunker mentalities. This will only suit the purposes of right-wing ideologues, who have been committed to destroying the left-wing student movement in this country for years. If we have any chance of growing as a movement, winning demands and changing our conditions, it is together and not apart that it will happen.