Re: UMGSA confusion

I would like to respond to an article in the Jan. 21, 2015 edition of the Manitoban titled “UMGSA confusion” by Ethan Cabel. The main points of this article revolve around excerpts taken from a leaked confidential resignation letter, and participation in the anti-cuts campaign with the Canadian Federation of Students MB (CFS-MB).

A confidential issue that was being dealt with in our UMGSA Council became a public affair when an individual shared a document with the Manitoban. Upon contact from the Manitoban, I refrained from discussing the resignation because those details should be confidential until they are resolved. Therefore, I provided the Manitoban with the details of our involvement in the anti-cuts campaign but not the resignation. The content of the resignation letter was taken out of context, which made it appear there was a scandal to be uncovered. The resignation letter was not the result of UMGSA involvement in the “Stop the Cuts” campaign, but rather stems from a different issue.

We are an autonomous organization working to stop campus austerity measures with six other student and worker unions on the “Stop the Cuts” campaign, one of which is the CFS-MB. We are also working with representatives from AESES, CUPE Local 3909, UMFA, UMSU, and Unifor Local 3007. This does not make us members of those organizations. We are participating with the campaign on a case-by-case basis so the UMGSA Executive and Campaigns Committees can evaluate which activities are most appropriate based on member goals.

To set the record straight, we pledged $1,000 to the anti-cuts campaign with council’s endorsement; this is very different from a “donation” that was stated in the Manitoban‘s article. We did not donate the $1,000 to CFS-MB; no money has changed hands. UMGSA will retain all control over the funds and the allocation of them.

The article tagline “Council confusion” seems to insinuate these processes took place without council consent instead of as a product of their involvement. Our council has had discussions around the anti-cuts campaign; critical questions have been raised and caution exercised.

The budget cuts will impact many stakeholders on campus and we should not let organizational politics restrict us from doing what is best for the student body. Moving forward I hope we can focus on the anti-cuts issues rather than unsubstantiated allegations.

Laura Rempel
University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association