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CBUSU and the CFS lawsuit: how student services will be affected 

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Aaron Sampson 

With the school year just starting, many new and returning students may have questions about the status of Cape Breton University’s Students’ Union after losing a lawsuit to the Canadian Federation of Students. In August, it was ruled that CBU owed almost $400,000 to the CFS in unpaid dues and legal fees, for a failure to follow the CFS’s bylaws in its 2008 referendum to leave the organization, where 92% of CBU students voted in the affirmative.

Understandably, some students may be concerned that such a large financial burden will impact the quality and quantity of services provided by the CBUSU. The CBUSU is appealing the decision, and while the long term financial position of the union is unclear, students should not expect much to change in the short term.

Returning students will notice no interruption to all the services they are accustomed to. Frosh Week will continue as planned, with all of the regular Frosh Week activities, as well as some new ones going ahead as scheduled. All of the beloved spots students are accustomed to, including The Pit, will remain open, and the services students have come to expect will still be there for them. CBU’s new affiliation with Aspiria’s Student Assistant Program is an encouraging development toward improving mental health on campus. And of course, as evidenced by the fact that you are reading this right now, the Caper Times is still going strong despite some budget cuts.

New students in particular may be wondering what to expect for their first year, and may have questions about whether the CBUSU will be able to deliver services at a level comparable to other universities who have no such potential restraints. As mentioned, as it stands, the services and activities that students are accustomed to are still active, and upon arriving on campus new students should expect the welcoming environment that Cape Breton is known for.

It is unclear what the long term prospects for the CBUSU are. It cannot be ignored that the penalties imposed by the ruling are severe and serious. Unless it is overturned on appeal, this is unquestionably a ruling that will have an impact on the way in which the union interacts with students. However, in the short term, students should not worry too much, and will notice little to no change when they arrive on campus for Frosh Week.

More information on the CFS trial and the CBUSU’s future can be found in the next edition of Caper Times.

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