Masjedee: CUSA plans include defederation, more student jobs

Zameer Masjedee, Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) vice-president (student life), said he is excited about the upcoming year as president of the student association.

“I’m feeling really good, feeling awesome, we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout or better results at the end of the day,” he said.

Masjedee’s slate, One Carleton, won all six executive positions in a CUSA election that saw a turnout of 37.2 per cent, the highest voter turnout in the association’s history.

The slate ran on promises including creating more student jobs at CUSA, implementing nap pods on campus, and defederating from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which Masjedee said would be one of his top priorities next year.

“We’re going to start the planning as early as right now in terms of I’m laying out the land and seeing what has to be done when,” he said.

Under CFS bylaws, before a student association can formally defederate from the CFS, they must collect the signatures of at least 15 per cent of the student body saying they want to defederate. After that, a referendum will be held and students will be able to decide on the question of defederating. If that referendum succeeds, CUSA will be able to defederate.

CUSA currently owes the CFS about $400,000 in student fees, which it withheld last year due to a lack of financial transparency from the CFS. This money would have to be paid before being able to defederate.

Masjedee said the process of collecting signatures will start in September 2017, once his term has started and when more students are on campus. He said he hopes to be able to pose the question to students on defederating before next January, but said this timeline is flexible.

“I think the defining factor was the amount of feedback students gave us and I think we noticed it during the [CUSA election] campaign itself,” he said.

I think particularly right now with some of the issues that arose with the CFS, news articles and everything about hidden bank accounts and misspending of students’ money, I think that’s when the tide turned,” Masjedee said. “We’re not happy with this, we’re not happy with the fact there’s $600,000 in unaudited money in hidden bank accounts.”

Masjedee said that despite his slate’s promise to run a campaign to defederate from the CFS, he gives them credit for their work on awareness campaigns and other positive work.

“To discredit the CFS as a whole I think is the wrong approach,” he said. “I think you have to appreciate the work they do when it comes to [awareness] campaigns, but also present that we have a unique opportunity to run campaigns on our campus that aren’t cookie-cutter and that are unique to our student body.”

In addition to One Carleton’s promises on defederation, Masjedee said he is very excited for the programming CUSA has planned to celebrate Carleton’s 75th anniversary and Canada’s 150th birthday.

“I think this is a fantastic opportunity that really only happens once every 150 years,” he said. “Getting to be a CUSA exec alongside my team during Carleton’s 75th anniversary is amazing, and we want to make sure we highlight that over the course of the year in everything that we do.”

– Photo by Trevor Swann