Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

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Student Federation of the University of Ottawa
Logo of the SFUO.png
Institution University of Ottawa
Location Ottawa, Ontario
Established 1969; originally 1926[citation needed]
President Roméo Ahimakin
Vice presidents Francesco Caruso, Vanessa Dorimain, Morissa Ellis, Rizki Rachiq, Hadi Wess
Members 35 000
Affiliations CFS

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (French: Fédération Étudiante de l'Université d'Ottawa; also known as SFUO or The Fed) is the students' union representing undergraduate students of the University of Ottawa. It is a not-for-profit organization, incorporated under the Corporations' Act of Ontario since September 1, 1969. The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa is a bilingual entity, its French-language name and acronym (FÉUO) have equal standing.


According to auditors Deloitte, the Student Federation collected $5,103,066 from all 36,068 registered students alone during the 2015 session.[1] A breakdown of the SFUO levies (services, initiatives and more) can be found on the University of Ottawa's Registrar Page.[2] The executives have a salary of $33,500 (adjusted for inflation),[3] and also covers the cost of up to 2 courses per semester as well as cell phone costs.[1]


The SFUO currently owns four student run businesses:

The PIVIK[edit]

A convenience store located in the University Centre, which sells an assortment of snack foods, groceries, magazines and some school supplies. It has a coffee and sandwiches section as well as an organic section.

The Agora Bookstore[edit]

The Agora Bookstore and Internet Cafe was created in 1999[4] by the SFUO to provide students with a lower cost textbook source than the campus store, which is run by the Follett Corporation, a large American textbook retailer. In 2006, students voted in a referendum to maintain a levy $9 per full-time student per semester to subsidize the Agora. While the Agora is not allowed to sell new textbooks on campus,[5] it is located only a few blocks away on Besserer Street.[6]


Between the period of 1981 to 2002, the SFUO owned and operated a bar located within the University Centre called "The Equinox", later shortened to just "The Nox". It was closed after generating significant deficits in the last few years of operation, although it had been successful financially during its first decade of operation.[citation needed] The SFUO briefly opened a bar called The Universe City Lounge above the Agora Bookstore. Universe City was closed after one year of operation. In 2006, the SFUO opened a student bar called 1848 in the University Centre.

Café Alt[edit]

Located in the basement of Simard Hall, Café Alt opened in October 2008 as a green and fair-trade student café with a deli sandwich bar, as well as a variety of fair trade coffees, after being abandoned by Chartwells, the university's food provider, in 2007. Café Alt's basement is also home to three smaller student associations; GAIA, the Geography students's association, AÉDF (Association des Étudiants du Département de français), and the Students' Association of the Faculty of Arts, which manages event booking in the space.


The SFUO is home to over 250 cultural, religious, political/social justice, philanthropic/humanitarian, recreational and academic clubs on campus. The SFUO had subsidised clubs up to $1000 each year.[7] This was increased to $2000 during the 2015-16 school year.[8] During the 2016-17 school year, clubs had their funding cut entirely due to the SFUO's austerity measures.[8]

Each club must register at the beginning of each academic year to be recognized and to receive the benefits of being a SFUO club.[9]


The SFUO runs twelve different services.

Bike Coop[edit]

The SFUO Bike Co-op is a space for bicycle enthusiasts. The Bike Co-op offers guided workshops and accessible biking resources.[10]

Bilingualism Centre[edit]

The SFUO Bilingualism Centre offers the opportunity to practice a second language in a discussion group, with a tutor, and during cultural events. It also advocates for language rights on campus.[11]

Centre for Students with Disabilities[edit]

The SFUO Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) is a centre for education and advocacy, as well as a drop-in space. The CSD offers events, services, and campaigns throughout the year focused on disability and accessibility.[12]

Food Bank[edit]

The SFUO Food Bank offers students access to food at all times. It also aims to raise awareness of food security issues and attempt to break down the stigma surrounding food insecurity in Canada.[13]

Foot Patrol[edit]

The SFUO Foot Patrol is a student-run volunteer-based safe walk service offered to all students and members of the university community. Foot Patrol volunteers pick up students and walk with them anywhere within a 45-minute walking radius around main and RGN campuses and ride on several OCTranspo routes.[14]

International House[edit]

The SFUO International House is a service designed to respond to the cultural, social, academic, and economic needs of international students and the general student population at the University of Ottawa.[15]

Peer Help Centre[edit]

The SFUO Peer Help Centre provides the student community with academic, personal, and social support, which is achieved through short-term peer consultation. The Peer Help Centre offers uOttawa students a comfortable place to turn to in a time of need.[16]

Pride Centre[edit]

The SFUO Pride Centre strives to promote a culture of affirmation through sex-positivity, and celebrate diversity of gender, sex, and sexuality both on and off campus. It offers students with resources as well as organizing events such as the annual Pride Week.[17]

Student Rights Centre[edit]

The SFUO Appeal Centre offers help and support to students who wish to appeal decisions made by the administration of the University of Ottawa. This free service also assists and guides students who wish to file a complaint against or to receive assistance in dealing with the University of Ottawa.[18]

Sustainable Development Centre[edit]

The SFUO Sustainable Development Centre aims to minimize the ecological footprint of the school and to change the mindset of students about sustainability and the ecological crisis. The centre not only runs its own projects, but also acts as a resource and support centre for environmental and social justice groups on campus.[19]


UOSERT provides medical emergency services.

Women’s Resource Centre[edit]

The SFUO Women’s Resource Centre is an inclusive, non-judgmental, pro-choice, feminist drop-in space that supports community members to work together to challenge gender oppression. They offer resources, events and campaigns to challenge gender oppression.[20]

Current Campaigns[edit]

In My Skin[edit]

In My Skin is an anti-racism campaign launched by the SFUO that seeks to tackle and raise awareness on racial issues faced on campus by many students of colour, while effectively educating them on how to challenge racism. In My Skin is an active campaign that creates various types of events such as a self-expression campaign, where students post a picture of themselves with a sign written “In My Skin” with a short quote about how they are not defined by racism, discussion groups, panels, and spoken word poetry slams. Additionally, these events seek to be inclusive to student of colour.[21]

Task Force Against Rape Culture[edit]

Task Force Against Rape Culture is a response campaign by the Student Federation and the Graduate Student Association, which seeks to address sexual violence occurring at the University of Ottawa. Rape culture is defined as the social attitude that allows for rape to be normalized, trivialized, and even celebrated in some cases. This campaign attempts to challenge and fight sexism, misogyny and other forms of sexual violence experienced, on and off campus at the University of Ottawa, to effectively end rape culture.[21]

Fossil Free uOttawa[edit]

Fossil Free uOttawa is an active campaign that promotes the negative impact of fossil fuel companies. Fossil Fuel uOttawa seeks to divest University of Ottawa from the very destructive fossil fuel industry by urging the Board of Governors to address the threat of climate change.[21]

The 5 Demands: Decolonize uOttawa[edit]

The 5 Demands for the decolonization of the University of Ottawa is a collaborative campaign between the Indigenous Students’ Association (ISA), the Indigenous and Canadian Studies Students’ Association (ICSSA), and the Student Federation. The campaign lists 5 specific demands. The first demand is requesting the University to teach the Algonquin language for an undergraduate credit once every academic year. The second demand is seeking to increase Indigenous scholarships. The third demand is asking to create an Indigenous portal on the University’s website. The fourth demand seeks for the University to recognize the Algonquin Nation throughout the physical landscape of the university. The final demand consists of three parts, part A demands the use of Aboriginal be replaced by Indigenous in all uses associated with the Aboriginal Studies Program; part B seeks to review the Aboriginal Studies Program in order to improve the French language offerings; part C requests that at least one course per semester be specifically related to the culture, history, politics, and spirituality of the Algonquin Nation.[21]

Generation Vote[edit]

The Generation to Vote is a campaign that encourages young people to vote with the goal of putting students’ needs on government agendas. This campaign was launched in spring 2014 before the Ontario provincial election by the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. The objective was to call on the province’s political parties to take action on issues relevant to youth and students. Some issues advocated were lower tuition fees, end illegal college and university ancillary fees, extend OHIP health coverage to international students, end unpaid internships, and improve access to public transit for students.[21]

The Hikes Stop Here[edit]

The Hikes Stop Here campaign was launched in 2013 in response to the announcement of the Ontario provincial tuition framework. The framework allows tuition to increase annually up to three percent for most general programs and up to five percent for high demand and graduate levels programs. There is also no regulation for international students tuition fees in the framework. The Campaign focuses on advocating to the Ontario government that they must take action by cancelling the current framework and address the rising cost of tuition. The campaign demands that tuition fees be reduced by 30 percent for all students and that a long-term plan be installed to publicly fund college and university education.[21]

Education is a Right[edit]

The Education is a Right campaign is based on the idea that public education in Canada is a basic right for all. The campaign advocates for a Canadian system of post secondary education be accessible to everyone and be of high quality. The goals of the campaign are the implementation of the national post-secondary education act, to dedicate federal funding for post-secondary education, to restore the federal funds to account for the underfunding in the past decades and to expand the non-repayable grants in order to eliminate student loans. The campaign also addresses the obstacles that graduate, international and Aboriginal students face.[21]

No Means No[edit]

The No Means No campaign is an effort to end rape and sexual violence in communities and on university campuses. This campaign raises awareness about sexual violence, rape, and promotes consent and encourages students to be active and prevent sexual violence.[21] The campaign, developed almost 20 years ago aims to change the culture surrounding acquaintance rape and dating violence in Canada. Through public education the campaign helps people understand their rights and responsibilities in sexual relationships.[22]

Canadian Federation of Students affiliation[edit]

The SFUO is Local 41 of the Canadian Federation of Students,[23] the same local number it held from 1985 to 1994.

In the summer of 2008, a committee was formed to create a report on national student organizations and their benefits. The vast majority of this report was about the Canadian Federation of Students.[24]

Consequently, the SFUO Board of Administration voted in favor of becoming prospective members of the Canadian Federation of Students. Later, in November 2008, the SFUO joined the Canadian Federation of Students in a referendum question that brought out 22% of the voting population. Approximately 52% of those who voted in this election were in favour of the referendum.


The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa elects its executive council annually, usually in the February general elections. At that time, the positions of President, Vice President Student Affairs, Vice President Finance, Vice President University Affairs, Vice President Communication and Vice President Social are elected as well as the faculty director positions on the Board of Administration (BoA).[25]

Past presidents of the organization have included Marcel Prud'homme (1958–59), André Ouellet (1959–60), Allan Rock (1969–70), Hugh Segal (1970–71), Denis Paradis (1974–75), Mauril Bélanger (1977–79), Anne McGrath (1979–80), Bernard Drainville (1984–85), Gilles Marchildon (1987–88), Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin (1990–91) and Guy Caron (1992–94).

General Assemblies[edit]

In November 2013, a referendum calling for the creation of the General Assembly (GA) of the SFUO failed, having not met the minimum turnout requirement of 4%, despite the yes receiving 84% of the vote.[26] Several students opposed the creation of the GA, citing cost concerns, as well as concerns that the GA quorum of 1% would not be properly representative of the student population. The petition for the referendum was launched by the Marxist Students’ Association.[27] A second referendum was held along with the General Elections in 2014, and passed.

The first General Assembly of the SFUO was held in November 2014. It failed to meet quorum and all the motions presented were later approved by the BoA, except for the motion calling for the SFUO to study the possibility of a strike. That motion was tabled indefinitely by the BoA in the hope that it would presented again at the next GA. Because the GA never met quorum, it became a Q&A period with the executive. That period was rather heated, with one student being quoted as saying that: "Instead of having a participatory democracy, we were just an audience and that was our feeling, we didn’t feel empowered".[28][29] Quorum has been met once, when over 230 students showed up during the 2017 Winter General Assembly to repeal an executive pay raise of 18%.


"In My Skin" Scandal[edit]

The Executives of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa planned an event called “In My Skin” to be held on March 4, 2014. The event sought to foster two conversations, according to its organizers: each group was to discuss the benefits and disadvantages that racialized and non-racialized students face in dealing with institutional racism.[30] In order to foster this conversation it was planned that students would be split into “breakout groups”, where they would discuss discrimination and white privilege and then would regroup to discuss the issues as a whole.[31]

There was a major backlash from students who saw this event as segregation and "reverse racism" because it would split students into different rooms based on skin colours.[30]

The Facebook event and debate were shut down and Nicole Desnoyers, Vice President Equity, released a statement explaining that there was no intention of segregation and racism on the part of the SFUO.[31]

Fireworks Scandal[edit]

In the summer of 2014, VP Social Ikram Hamoud decided to hold a fireworks display at the closing ceremony of that year's 101 Week. To that end, the SFUO purchased 10 000 $ worth of fireworks.[32] Hamoud was then notified by the City of Ottawa that they wouldn't be able to use the fireworks due to safety concerns. This caused a lot of controversy. Several of the Federated Bodies VP Socials accused Hamoud of failing to work with the Social Round Table. This, as well as concerns about the VP Social's job performance, lead to an attempt at launching an impeachment referendum.[33][34][35] In part because of its vocal criticism of the purchase, the Facebook group SFUO Does Not Represent Me gained substantial popularity.[36][37] The 2014 101 Week finished with a budget deficit of almost $80 000.[38]

Crashing of ARC Opening Ceremony[edit]

A group of students, led by several members of the executive, crashed the opening ceremony of the Advanced Research Complex (ARC) in September 2014. The group stood behind the podium with a banner calling for lower tuition fees, and the VP University Affairs interrupted [Reza Moridi]'s speech to read a statement.[39][40] This protest drew criticism from many students,[41] including several executive members of the Science Student's Association, who wrote a letter to the Fulcrum stating that: "The fact that the 'student representative' felt it necessary to protest rising tuition fees on the opening of (Dr. André Lalonde's) building is offensive to many of us. We feel that it is not only disrespectful to his memory and his legacy as a student-oriented dean, but also because this building should be celebrated for what it is, instead of criticised for what it is not."[42]

Yoga as Cultural Appropriation[edit]

In November 2015, the SFUO cancelled the free yoga classes being put on by the Centre for Students with Disabilities over concerns of cultural appropriation. The news provoked a large backlash from students, and received coverage by international media. The free class was subsequently reinstated with the hireing of an Indian-Canadian instructor.“Cultural issues” were the primary concern sited in an email from The University of Ottawa’s Centre for Students with Disabilities, run by the SFUO, to the Ottawa Sun. “While yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students … there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice. [Some cultures] have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.“ Less than a week later, the Sun reported that the SFUO had changed course and issued a statement attributing declining attendance and a need to “ensure that students’ money and resources was being used in a responsible and efficient way,” as the reason for the cancellation.[43]

Allegations of Executives Illegally Obtaining U-Passes[edit]

U-Passes are Ottawa-Gatineau area public transportation passes that students are required to buy into as part of their forced membership of the SFUO if they qualify. To be eligible, a uOttawa student must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student.[44] Students are able to opt-out under very restrictive criteria, such as living outside of the public transit service area, among other criteria.[45] In early 2017 allegations were made that the SFUO executives, who cannot qualify for the u-Passes because they must be part time students, had obtained and were using U-Passes. Complaints were made against VP social Hadi Wess, VP university affairs Vanessa Dorimain, VP finance Rizki Rachiq, and VP equity Morissa Ellis. They were investigated by the BoA Disciplinary Committee,[46] which found that indeed Wess, Dorimain, and Ellis had obtained U-Passes. Ellis had obtained the U-Pass by registering for five classes, which contravened with the SFUO constitution on the maximum course load for executives. She later dropped the excess classes to become a part-time student, but did not return the U-Pass as required. Dorimain was found to not qualify for a U-Pass, but as part of her role she works on the U-Pass portfolio and had access to U-Passes that were not distributed due to "errors." Wess was found to be "qualified" for the U-Pass but the disciplinary committee did not disclose how.[47] He was a part-time student and part-time students do not qualify. During the BoA meeting at the Roger Guindon Campus on April 2, 2017, the Faculty of Medicine representative Lukas Hashem asked for clarification as to how Wess could qualify but no answer was given. Amazingly, the disciplinary committee did not recommend sanctions against those involved, leading to allegations that the committee was toothless.[48]

18% Exec Pay Raise, Stripping of General Assembly Legislative Power[edit]

In February 2017, the SFUO began discussion about raising executive salaries from $33500 to $39700, an increase of 18%, despite the poor financial condition and bankruptcy of the student union in 2016.[49][50] Students criticized continual lack of funding to clubs, the low wages of other SFUO employees, and accused SFUO executives of conflict of interest.[51] Despite widespread online controversy of the proposal, it was passed, with SFUO executives citing making less than other university student federation executives and dependent children as reasons for the raise.[49][50] On March 14, the Winter 2017 general assembly met quorum for the first time since 1980, with over 230 students showing up to repeal the executives' pay raise.[51] This was in part due to organized efforts by Student Voices-uOttawa and several politically active students including Jordan Kent, Nicholas Robinson, Justin Patrick, Michele Di Franco, and former Faculty of Medicine BoA representative Lukas Hashem, among others.[49]

After the motion passed, with the added condition that execs not be allowed to raise their own salaries any more than what other SFUO worker's salaries have been raised, it was discovered that the legislative power of the GA had been stripped previously and any motion passed would still have to be passed by the Board of Administration. Students argued that they could not trust the BoA to make decisions for them that reflect what had happened during the GA, and expressed worry that BoA meetings are not recorded or made available to the public. After heated debate, it was decided that since the decision to repeal the pay raise did not affect bylaws or constitution, and the stripping of power had not been made publicly known to the student body, it would be passed without having to be voted on by the BoA, and the pay raise was repealed.[49][51]

At the BoA meeting on April 2, 2017, a motion was passed which states that the BoA requires two thirds super majority to repeal motions passed at the GA. This was advocated for by engineering representative Jeffrey Colin, special student representative David Gakwerere, and medicine representative Lukas Hashem.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Incidental Fees 2010-2011". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1] Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ uOttawa Policy 50
  6. ^ Agora Bookstore and Internet Cafe
  7. ^ "SFUO Clubs About Us". SFUO. Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  8. ^ a b "Cuts to funding for campus clubs this year - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2016-09-01. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Student Federation University of Ottawa Clubs". SFUO. Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  10. ^ "SFUO Bikes". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  11. ^ "SFUO Bilingualism". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  12. ^ "SFUO CSD". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  13. ^ "SFUO Food Bank". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  14. ^ "SFUO Foot Patrol". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  15. ^ "SFUO iHouse". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  16. ^ "SFUO Peer Help". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  17. ^ "SFUO Pride". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  18. ^ "SFUO Appeals". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  19. ^ "SFUO Green". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  20. ^ "SFUO Women's Resource Centre". Retrieved 17 March 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h "Our Campaigns". Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  22. ^ "No Means No". The Canadian Federation of Students | Fédération canadienne des étudiantes et étudiants. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  23. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  24. ^ English version of the The committee's report:
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b Lytvynenko, Jane (3 March 2014). "Ottawa students tried to segregate whites from non-whites". Macleans. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Desnoyers, Nicole. "In My Skin Campaign". SFUO. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Letter to the editor" The Fulcrum. Volume 75, issue 8. 9 October 2014.
  43. ^
  44. ^ "U-Pass - A service of the SFUO". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  45. ^ "Exemptions". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  46. ^ "BOA ratifies 2017 SFUO general election results - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2017-03-14. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  47. ^ "Saga U-Pass : L'exécutif blanchi par le rapport du Comité disciplinaire, mais des questions subsistent - La Rotonde". La Rotonde (in French). 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  48. ^ "The SFUO U-Pass controversy continues - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2017-03-21. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  49. ^ a b c d "SFUO exec salary raise reversed at historic GA - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  50. ^ a b "SFUO tension reaches fever pitch - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2017-03-13. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  51. ^ a b c "Le quorum finalement atteint lors de l'Assemblée générale - La Rotonde". La Rotonde (in French). 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  52. ^ "Executive overtime pay discussed at April 2 BOA meeting - The Fulcrum". The Fulcrum. 2017-04-03. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 

External links[edit]