The Students’ Union at Cape Breton University isn’t going down without a fight.
The group says it will appeal a decision by an Ontario court ordering it to pay $400,000 into the Canadian Federation of Students.
“From the legal advice we’ve received, we think we have a good chance at succeeding in this,” says Brandon Ellis, president of the union. “Above all else we feel we should fight for our students and not lay down and accept this decision that disrespects the spirit of democracy.”
The decision for the union to pay nearly $300,000 in dues and another $100,000 in legal fees to CFS was made last month.
The court’s decision found the union didn’t follow the proper steps to cut ties with the organization during a referendum held on campus in 2008, where 92 per cent of the student body voted to break away from the student lobbying group.
Officials say they simply weren’t getting support from the national group.
“There were several times throughout the year that I had asked for CFS to help,” says Ellis, “one being the zero tuition campaign which made national headlines. CFS never bothered to contact me and none of their leaders did either.”
The other option for the group is to declare bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of up to 80 fulltime student jobs at the university.
“It’s going to make it really difficult for a lot of students to go to university,” says CBU student Mark Vickers. “It’s already expensive and tuition just went up. Losing these jobs, I would say they’re students who are not going to be able to afford to come back.”
Ellis is hoping that’s a route the group will not need to take.
“Bankruptcy is not an option we want to take, but our hand is being forced and at this point in time we are going to fight for our students until we can’t anymore,” he says.
The appeal process could take up to a year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.