The Engineering Undergraduate Society of McGill (EUS), along with the Engineering Societies of Queen’s University and the University of Toronto, co-signed an open letter on February 18 accusing the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) of poor management and calling for imminent reform.
CFES represents 60,000 engineering students across Canada and offers services such as an annual congress focused on leadership development, a national student magazine, technical skill competitions and complementary education courses.
The letter points to the decision to hold the 2012 CFES Congress in the Yukon as a chief example of poor management.
“The cost of sending delegates to such a remote location will make the conference unaffordable for some schools…the executive made no effort to steer the organization away from such a careless action,” reads the letter.
Leading the complaint against CFES is EUS President Daniel Keresteci, who initiated the letter to CFES and contacted Queen’s and U of T after the 2011 CFES Congress.
The choice to hold the 2012 CFES Congress in the Yukon was headed by the “bloc” of ten schools in the Western Engineering Student Societies’ Team (WESST), including student representatives from all the accredited Western Canadian engineering schools.
The different WESST member schools under the umbrella of the made up University of Yukon will hold the congress cooperatively. This is the first time the congress will be hosted by a group of schools as opposed to just one, and the first time it will be held in Northern Canada.
“[This congress will] allow for cooperation between the different WESST member schools,” states the congress website.
According to Kevin Siu, president of the University of Toronto Engineering Society, the WESST’s decision will alienate universities with smaller budgets.
“Taking delegates to the Yukon for next year’s scheduled conference at a premium is counter-productive…the imaginary ‘University of Yukon’ joke was way past the point of being humorous,” he said.
Keresteci agreed, noting that the event in the Yukon is far too costly. “It is a waste of people’s money,” he said.
The CFES, however, maintains that the resolution to hold the congress in the Yukon was decided democratically by the members of the body, and therefore was in no position to reject the decision.
“They questioned our leadership in allowing the selection of Yukon to host CFES Congress, but this decision rests squarely in the hands of the members,” wrote CFES President Rob Stalker, in an email to The Daily. “The members voted in favour of Yukon.”
The letter also charges the CFES with failing to properly lobby the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science (NCDEAS). The letter states that the CFES has unique access to the NCDEAS, which it should use on behalf of engineering students across Canada.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the CFES denied that they are the only body with access to the NCDEAS.
“While we certainly have regular contact with these groups, we by no means run a monopoly on their time or lines of communication,” reads the statement. The CFES added that lobbying is currently out of its mandate.
All three universities agree that major changes must be made in the CFES if they are to remain in the organization. Both Keresteci and Sui believe that the CFES is long overdue for reforms.
“[At] no time in my memory was the CFES a successful organization,” said Keresteci, “It’s reached a watershed moment, and we must act now.”