Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

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Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations logo.png
Location Ottawa, Ontario
Established 1995
Members 25 (300,000 students)[1]
National Director Zachary Dayler

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) was formed in 1995 by several post-secondary institutions' student unions who had withdrawn from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and previously unaffiliated student unions. Today CASA boasts of a membership of 25 student associations representing over 300,000 students.[2]


CASA's origins can be traced to the first Winds of Change conference hosted by the University of Alberta in 1990. In what would become an annual meeting, student leaders from across the country were invited to come together to discuss challenges facing post-secondary education students in Canada.

In 1993 the federal government announced that all of Canada's social programs would be reviewed with sweeping and significant changes likely to come which prompted several student unions not affiliated with the CFS to try to organize efforts to lobby the federal government on education issues.

In 1994, as the result of a conference held at Carleton University, a number of student leaders decided to form a new Canadian post-secondary student organization. The foundations for the new organization were laid down, and the framework for a constitution was built upon it.

In 1998 Patrick Fitzpatrick, then acting Director of CASA, plead guilty to fraud charges after it was discovered that he embezzled money from the organization.[3]

In 2003 Liam Arbuckle, then National Director resigned. In 2008, CASA accepted its first member organization to consist entirely of graduate students: the University of Waterloo Graduate Student Association.[4] In November 2011, the Athabasca University Graduate Student Association became the second member organization to consist of entirely graduate students.

Recent membership dissatisfaction[edit]

In 2005, the Students' Society of McGill University voted to leave the CASA. The CASA sued the SSMU after disaffiliation, and reached a settlement on fees in 2009.[5]

In 2006, the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union ended its membership in the CASA during the USSU's failed bid to join the Canadian Federation of Students.[6]

In 2009, the CASA's largest member, the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia (AMS), voted for the second straight year to disaffiliate. The AMS cited high fees and the irrelevance of the CASA as primary reasons for disaffiliation.[7] They currently sit as an associate member.

Founding principles[edit]

The Association set down a number of founding principles:[8]

  • First, CASA would be member-driven in that the members of the Association would set the organization's policy agenda and define its goals.
  • Second, CASA would focus on issues specific to post-secondary education, establishing a strong orientation toward policy development.
  • Third, CASA would ensure that membership within the alliance would not unfairly burden member associations. Joining CASA would be made easy through clear and flexible by-laws. Membership fees would be capped and kept to the lowest possible level.
  • Lastly, CASA would focus its attention on those challenges facing post- secondary education students within federal jurisdiction only. Provincial advocacy would be best left to member associations. In effect, CASA established principles and practices that would promote a strong, grassroots, pragmatic alliance focusing exclusively on the problems facing post- secondary education students in Canada.


External links[edit]