Central Student Association - History


The current CSA is the third iteration of a central student union on the Guelph campus. It was founded in 1973. The first cross-College student government was Union Council which lasted from the end of World War Two until 1970 when—because of a major disagreement over the University Centre—the University drove it into bankruptcy and dissolution.

In 1966 students agreed to fund a "Student Union Building" with no university operations in it at all. In 1968 they agreed—again by referendum—to fund an expanded building which was to be called the University Community Centre which would house university run services that students needed to directly access such as counselling services, registration and financial aid.

By 1970 the University decided that the building would be all that and also house all administration functions as well. Union Council claimed that such a building would violate the terms of the referendum and therefore they should build what the students said they wanted or return the money collected. The University countered by saying that the newly incorporated Union Council (which changed its name to the University of Guelph Student Union) had no say in how the fees collected would be spent, that they didn't "recognize" this new entity as the legitimate student government. At the same time, the University decided that fees paid to the Union Council (which they had collected up to this point and gave over to the new "Student Union" that they claimed had no standing) should be voluntary. They stopped collecting the fee and that soon drove the organization into bankruptcy. With no money to operate or to fight the University Centre battle with, the organization dissolved itself.

The second student "government" was the Committee of College Presidents (OAC, OVC, Mac, and Arts). It was a loose association whose main function was to make sure that social events and some services (such as the Ontarion) would survive. It lasted only three years—long enough for the University to take the student money and build the building they'd decided on. The Committee didn't do much except to create a real student government called the University of Guelph Central Student (note the singular "student") Association. It was first known as UGCSA, but it lost the UG a couple of years later and by 1977 it was know by all as the CSA. Unlike the Committee, it was a directly elected body, and soon an incorporated one.

One of its first actions was to sue the University for breach of trust over the University Centre. The CSA worked to regain student control of the UC from the University in the 1970s and finally settled out of court on the matter, establishing a University Centre Board with a majority of student representatives. Students continue to pay a fee for the building.

From 1973 until 1993 the CSA had a structure with a President and Vice Presidents (varying in number) and a voting council made up of reps from the Colleges (one appointed by the College Student Government and two voted in "at large"). After 1993 the structure has been flattened, with various kinds of Commissioners and Spokespeople representing the various (and changing) efforts of the Association. In addition there are now voting places for other student organizations and groups as well as the Colleges.

The CSA was a member local of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) from 1987 until a referendum by the students in the spring of 2010 where more than 40 percent of eligible voters turned out and by a margin of more than 3 to 1 voted in favour of termination their membership with the federation.

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