Kwantlen Student Association loses lawsuit against national organization

Judge sides with Canadian Federation of Students in legal dispute over membership and fees.

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) has lost a lawsuit it launched against the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) over membership and fees paid to the national organization.

While the KSA claimed that a vote of its directors early this year terminated its membership in the CFS, the CFS argued the termination wasn’t valid because it requires a referendum of individual Kwantlen Polytechnic University students.

The KSA has been a member of the CFS since 1981. Fees are collected from students (approximately $3 per student per semester) by the university and paid to the CFS.

The KSA campaigned 2008 to leave the national student group, saying doing so would save the Kwantlen student body thousands of dollars. After some controversy, a student referendum was held that year, with 56 per cent voting in favour of continuing as CFS members.

In B.C. Supreme Court decision early this week (Oct. 26), Justice John Steeves referred to the 2008 matter and said the current case was not about the right to disaffiliate from the CFS, but how to do so. A student referendum is still required, he ruled.

There has been no change to the disaffiliation procedures of the respondents which still require a referendum of individual members,” Steeves said.

The KSA also alleged a change in the CFS’s rules last year amounted to the national organization taking over the governance of Kwantlen students and effectively forced the KSA to collect membership fees for the CFS.

The judge disagreed with both claims.

“There is no evidence that the change was made to somehow thwart the legal rights of KSA,” said Steeves.

“Nor is there a basis for finding that the respondents’ bylaws with respect to the collection and remittance of fees are illegal or otherwise objectionable.”