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Hannah Derue: My postcard to IGNITE

‘I’ve concluded that IGNITE isn’t working for the students, they are working for a brand.’

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Hannah Derue | Opinion


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.


In the final hours of a tumultuous provincial election in Ontario, like many Ontarians, I sat lurched over in my chair, horrified by the results that started pouring in on the news.

My mind started reeling through past headlines of the Mike Harris style cuts that came from our province’s last Conservative government.

I knew then to expect broad strokes of legislative change that would cut corners and so-called “red tape” for businesses and top earners, leaving our province’s most vulnerable members of society in the dust.

It came as no surprise to me that students were one of the first demographics to be put on the legislature’s chopping block, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. There are many potential reasons for why the PC government decided to impose the Student Choice Initiative but for now that is only speculative.

Here’s my take: Students are loud, they are (mainly) left, and they didn’t vote for Ford.

Now it’s on the students and their governing student unions and representatives to decide what actions can and will be taken from here.


What does it mean?

The so-called Student Choice Initiative will make it optional to pay the “ancillary fees” students have come to expect on their semesterly tuition and fee charges. These ancillary fees go towards Humber and Guelph-Humber’s menstrual kit initiatives, events like “Real Talks”, and the countless thousands of dollars that are poured into the marketing, promotions, and staffing required to maintain the IGNITE brand.

There are certainly concerns about whether services like the sleep lounge, bursaries and grants, and other programming will continue in the face of these new changes.

Undoubtedly, these initiatives are important to the student experience and enrich campus life for many students. For better or worse, the Ford government has put that decision in the hands of students.

When student unions run effectively, they provide a platform for students to speak out about the student experience, what it means to be a student, and speak openly about social and political issues.

They provide resources and supports for students in need that the college or university would not traditionally provide. What determines whether IGNITE sinks or swims is if they do what they are elected to do — To speak for students’ best interests.


What this means for Guelph-Humber

When IGNITE received news about the Student Choice Initiative from the provincial government, they took swift action to make postcards in support of what the student union provides. Make no mistake, this is an effort to ensure that the student union exists into the coming years.

IGNITE part time staff manned booths and handed out popcorn to students who agreed to write on provided postcards that they supported IGNITE and agreed to have their note sent to Queen’s Park.

When the government threatened to remove student union supports on campus, IGNITE responded with postcards in support of maintaining IGNITE’s campus presence. In doing this, they neglected to do their fundamental job — To advocate for the students they represent.

I personally messaged the VP of Guelph-Humber, Maheen Nazim, who declined my offer to organize a rally on campus in rejection of the Student Choice Initiative and the PC reforms to OSAP.

I was advised by Nazim to join the CFS if I wanted to stand up for students impacted by OSAP changes. I was told that IGNITE would be using its resources to promote its continued presence on campus and to encourage students not to “opt-out” via the postcard campaign.

As a result of these events, I’ve concluded that IGNITE isn’t working for the students, they are working for a brand.


What now?

If students want to see the situation at Guelph-Humber improve, they’re going to need to get active. They will need to write to student leaders and tell them that when they speak on behalf of students, they have a responsibility to do more than defend their paychecks.

It is evident that students who want to defend themselves from Ford’s cuts are going to have to look past IGNITE and to the legislature directly. They will need to pen letters to MPPs, organize walkouts and sit ins.

Students must actively resist PC actions against OSAP supports for low income students and against policy reforms like the elimination of the six month grace period, which effectively attacks graduates just as they’re looking to enter the workforce.

Ask your candidates in the IGNITE election what they will do to protect the students, rather than what they will do to protect IGNITE.

The bottom line: If IGNITE doesn’t represent the student populations’ interests adequately on the provincial stage, their jobs will be the first on the chopping block. No postcards or popcorn handouts will defend them from that.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.

Image of Hannah Derue supplied. Derue is a campus activist about to graduate from the psychology program at the University of Guelph-Humber. She ran for Senate in 2018 and the New Democratic Party’s women’s representative in Guelph.

Disclosure: Hannah Derue is the partner of Eli Ridder, Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Avro Post. Her opinion does not represent that of Ridder’s, The Avro Post or the staff of The Avro Post. Her piece was posted as all reasonable submissions are posted along the guidelines outlined here. ■

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Movie corner: ‘Shin Godzilla’

A look back at ‘Shin Godzilla’.

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© imdb.com

This is a very special month for a very special Giant Movie Monster. This month is the 65th anniversary of the worlds biggest movie star (literally) and King of the monsters, Godzilla.

At 65 years, his is the longest running movie franchise ever, with 35 movies (counting the American productions) under the titanic creature’s belt, spanning all the way back to 1954. And that number will only continue to grow in the coming years, with Godzilla vs Kong set to debut next year in March and Toho Studios, Godzillas owner, set to take its own steps into the cinematic universe ring with their own kaiju (the word for giant monster in Japanese).

In the (late) spirit of celebration, we could perhaps look back on his homeward bound endeavours and talk about one of the reasons why he’s so beloved. In particular, let’s talk about one of his movies. And what better than one where the titular monster is a symbol of ruin, death and destruction brought forth from atomic energy, where, as the song goes, “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.”

By that description, it would appear I’m talking about Godzilla’s first cinematic opus from 1954. In actuality, I’m referring to the more recent live action film that just so happens to take “The big G” back to his traditionally villainous roots from the first film. Lets talk about… Shin Godzilla.

Shin Godzilla is a 2016 Japanese giant monster movie that, as previously stated, goes back to it’s grim roots created by the 1954 original classic “Godzilla.” It elects to once again make the mutated prehistoric reptile of unknown origin an unstoppable force of destruction and terror.

The design of the creature even borrows the “keloid scars” from the original look with a more gruesome update. But thats not the only thing that has updated with this version of the king of the monsters. Not only is it an allegory for a particular disaster (the Tohoku tsunami, earthquake and nuclear meltdown in this case) but it is also a political satire!

The film wastes no time in starting, as a massive steam geyser erupts from Tokyo bay and a weird blood like liquid begins to flood the tunnels after a boat of a Japanese scientist is discovered without him on board. From there, the Japanese government holds various meetings on how to handle the situation while pandemonium continues to unfold. When one of the politicians, our protagonist Rando Yaguchi, played by Hiroki Hasegawa, states during a meeting that the eruption might be caused by a large creature, based on the videos posted by onlookers and survivors, he’s lambasted for the idea and told not make a mockery of the political system… before a news report reveals a massive creature in the bay that’s headed for the city. 

This results in postponing the meeting for… another meeting, as they discuss what the creature is and its abilities, resulting in more havoc. As more details and abilities are revealed about the creature revealed and international interests for said creature, dubbed Godzilla by the missing scientists papers, the race is on for Yaguchi and his team of “misfits and weirdos” to come up with a breakthrough before Godzilla causes more chaos.

What is truly noteworthy about Shin Godzilla is just how bold and daring it is compared to other Godzilla movies, despite clearly taking notes from the original movie. This film was penned and co-directed by Hideki Anno, and if you know the name, you might be familiar with the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, of which Anno created, wrote and directed.

The series is known for its wildly gorgeous visuals, symbolism, allegorical messages, and just how bizarre the show and the concept actually is. Shin Godzilla is no different. Instead of appearing as his normal reptilian self when he shows up surprisingly early for one of his own movies, he is instead this bizarre cross of terrifying and adorable, looking more akin to an eel with dinosaur legs with massive unblinking eyes and bleeding gills.

Despite being barely able to walk, he still causes much destruction and death before seemingly and randomly stopping to reveal Anno’s next radical idea regarding Godzilla: he instantly “evolves” into something slightly closer to his traditional appearance to better walk on land. In other words, when Godzilla is faced with a difficult challenge, his body radically transforms to deal with it. It’s even brought up that, if need be, he can sprout wings and fly. 

This leads to the point where he finally becomes something that looks like a “traditional” Godzilla design and later the scene where he finally uses his atomic breath for the first time. The scene itself is both beautiful and very haunting. It is probably Godzilla’s most frightening use of his atomic breath to date, and it is the first time on film that Godzilla breaths actual fire for a bit (That idea was a concept invented by the Americans while importing the movies, he actually breaths an “emission of radiation” or just a straight up laser).

This is the first time in a Japanese Godzilla movie that Godzilla would be fully portrayed by CGI for all scenes (a few films had a few shots where the monster was entirely computer generated). Harkening back to the original design, Godzilla’s 4th and final “look” (his first is unseen) brings back the ugly and horrific keloid radiation scarring that the first version of the monster evoked. Using some impressive CGI the monster is shown in incredible detail, exposed glowing red tissue and a horrific mangled jaw that has teeth protruding outside of his lips being just the tip of the dorsal plate.

To emphasize his presence is a beautiful score. Most of it composed by regular Hideki Anno collaborator Shiro Sagisu, the score he creates offers a unique mix of tracks,  with some deliberately using a more action movie vibe when actual work and progress is being made on how to stop Godzilla. Some are more appropriately haunting, such as “Who Will Know,” a tragic and somber piece used for Godzilla’s first thermonuclear breath. The song itself can be seen from Godzilla’s perspective, as it elements about its survival.

The film has more the just the monster, surprisingly. As previously stated, Hideki Anno is known for his less than subtle allegorical messages and symbolism and Shin Godzilla has this in spades. Throughout the picture, the Japanese government goes to meeting after meeting after meeting before arriving at anything helpful to help people or try to halt Godzilla’s progress. Indeed when the film opens, adherence to protocol is strict, to the point where it actually hinders and slows the effort to stop Godzilla.

During a military effort to crush the creature, the prime minister is relaid information by his superiors about the attack. In order to get to him, it has to travel down the line of command before reaching a member of the cabinet who only can respond to his superior, despite the sitting at the same table as the prime minister, and then said superior, can talk to the prime minister. Now some of this is already natural for many governments with similar structures, but Anno directs the scene in such a way as to highlight how utterly absurd this process is. 

No movie is perfect, including Shin Godzilla, which does have noticeable faults. Despite being a Japan centric picture, there are some scenes with english dialogue. When some Japanese characters speak english dialogue, it’s fine. They give it a good effort and it comes off convincingly. However, sometimes it comes off as awkward and stilted, as some actors struggle speak the language. Unusually, the ones who come off as the most awkward are the few english speaking actors. Some of the lines they perform are oddly worded, with the occasional awkward performance to back it up.

Thankfully, the fault is not entirely distracting, as the film knows where its main focus is, and it payed off. With high praise across the board in its home country and an estimated US$15 million budget, it made back US$77 million, making it the most financially successful Japanese Godzilla movie. At the Japanese academy awards, it was able to acquire many wins for itself, including best picture, a first for a Godzilla movie.

In the end, your taste in monster movies may vary, but if this spikes anyone’s interest, the film is available on dvd, Blu-ray and digital, though there are 2 versions of the digital version, one english dubbed and one in Japanese (The Japanese dub is superior). It may not be the goofy monster destroying action you may heard about, but it is still very enjoyable and serves as a reminder as to why Godzilla was made in the first place.

Hail to the king. ■

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Johnson-Figueredo: It’s time to face socialism

A Cuban take on socialism.

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A photo of a classic car common to Cuba via Pexels.

OPINION

Michel Johnson-Figueredo
Columnist
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

A new poll says socialism has increased in popularity in the United States, but have we forgotten what socialism truly entails?

With the increase in liberalism and further leftist ideas within global culture, socialism and ‘the fight for equality’ has taken hold of the conversation. But why is socialism considered an ideal form of government and now seen as the only solution?

I’ve known about it since I was young. Born from a Cuban mother, in a rundown military hospital known to locals as ‘Hospital Naval’, it was my introduction to socialism. When my mother tells me of that day, it’s often filled with glimpses into socialism that aren’t mentioned in the mainstream.

Socialist systems cause a strain on production of goods and services, often leaving the general populace to suffer.

No needles, expired anesthesia, and recently graduated doctors with little experience tended to my mother. It was horrible staying in that hospital, my mother tells me. That was 1996, and in 2019, it has only fallen further.

Socialist propagandists or ‘activists’ like to claim that government control of major industries and businesses is the fairest way to service and provide for those within a country’s borders.

I beg to differ.

As we move towards a more progressive societal mindset, liberal ideology has become the norm within educational institutions and social groups. The groupthink surrounding socialist platforms has taken hold of the mainstream and people have grown fond of them.

Of course, who wouldn’t grow fond of the things preached by modern day pilgrims as they journey towards a socialist utopia.

U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016 began using the term Democratic Socialist, differentiating his socialist policies from those which would be compared to my own country.

Democratic Socialism is nothing new, being represented in many governments around the world including Portugal, where it continues to be popular.

Bolivia, another democratically socialist country, is in the midst of a revolt against their president, as accusations of fraud grow after the presidential election in October.

Communism and dictatorships were often connected with socialism but now we are given a new light of socialism, re-branded, a new and improved look, Democratic Socialism.

Apart from the other issues within socialism, the form that has been imported into the U.S. is violent, un-democratic, and silences the voices of many.

I know what you’re thinking.

Michel, how could you say that? These representatives of socialism are the voice of the working people.

Well, thats the thing, they aren’t. They are representatives of ideals they strongly believe in and continuously reject evidence against. They constantly feel as though the importance of implementing socialist policies triumphs their eventual result.

Someone once told me that ANTIFA are anti-fascists because thats what ANTIFA means. Well, by that logic if a man goes by the name of ‘Tiny Tim’ that doesn’t necessarily mean Tim is tiny. Tim could be 280 lbs and 6’2.

ANTIFA, a group stating they fight fascists, have only harmed and alienated working class people with opposing political views. Silencing, threatening and often attacking average citizens who don’t agree with them politically.

I spent two years living in Cuba when I turned 20 years old, encountering a vastly different place. Nowhere to be seen is the paradise constantly spoken by those privileged enough to promote socialism here in Canada.

I saw a country which had revolutionized to become better, but became a land of anti-demonstration, police brutality, corruption, and massive wealth inequality.

Government control and subsidies of societal needs crumble under socialism.

While living in my hometown it was not strange to experience water shortages for weeks. An entire city running on tank water, to cook, bathe, and everything in between.

Government managed garbage trucks break down due to poor maintenance and few spare parts available, government stores sell limited products. Those who look for other options turn toward black markets where competition exists.

Behind the pile of trash, lies a government run daycare. Camilo Cienfuegos, La Habana. Photo by Michel Johnson-Figueredo.

Supermarkets and mini-marts not having any sort of food is also common, except for canned peas and tubes of ‘Picadillo de Soya‘, a government provided favourite that no one seems to know what it’s made of.

The issue with modern day socialists is their lack of real experience within socialism. Waking up in the morning, eating stale bread, topped with soy based oil, and a glass of water with sugar is a reality these ‘preachers’ have never seen.

The failure of socialism lives on in Cuba; forcing the government to sell off government property to outside investors, opening up private businesses to stimulate growth because ‘government’ cannot be the solution to every problem.

But as they take one step forward, they take three steps back. As soon as businesses and options are created for the typical consumer, it is taxed and regulated until businesses struggle to survive.

Receiving a university degree in Cuba, even studying medicine or engineering, is worthless. Yes, government covers tuition fees but doctors are paid a measly $25 to $50 a month.

After graduating, everyone must work for the government for a small wage of $5 CUC a month, for a period of up to two years. A longtime family friend, who’s wife is also a full-time doctor, works as a taxi driver on the side just to maintain his family.

If this is what socialism is about, why don’t we hear the media criticize it? Why is there no public outcry? Why don’t the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren take a step out from their shell, visit Cuba, and defend their socialist policies?

Well, in a 2016 interview with ABC News, Sanders was asked about comments he made regarding Cuba in 1970, speaking on education and healthcare. He clarified his comments, saying the economy in Cuba is a disaster. But he continues with this idea that Cuba has a good education and healthcare system.

A healthcare system that is reduced everyday by doctors being sent away to foreign countries in exchange for aid. As hospitals continue to decline in quality, President Miguel Díaz-Canel can’t even supply enough hospital beds for the aging population. Doctor’s constantly told my family that a bed wasn’t available for my uncle, until it was too late, and he passed a day after he was admitted.

As many Canadians and other tourists take advantage of discounted resort deals in Cuba, they see happy faces. They see Cubans dancing and enjoying life, not in anger or despair.

So the system must be working, right? Why wouldn’t it be if we’re not constantly voicing our opinions and calling for change?

The miscommunication here is that is who we are, as a culture and a people. In the worst of circumstances, the typical Cuban takes it as just another day he or she needs to survive.

In Canada, we live in luxury, constantly taking rights for granted; free speech, the right to vote, the right to protest and other fundamentals that are critical to our livelihood. But we continue to promote and protect ideologies that have long risen, crashed, and burned.

As the entitlement among my generation grows, institutions and governments match their rhetoric. Diversity of thought has been lost as we nit-pick what we like from socialism and believe we can use the same formula while solving for a different answer.

Humber College is among one of the many educational institutions that follows this mainstream standard. Hiring politically biased professors in general elective courses that continue to maintain one set idea of liberalism.

Courses which were once made to explore the arts, has now turned into a conditioning experiment by educators.

Instead of questioning the norm, professors and other students support the mainstream. Consistently dismissing the idea of challenging these narrative ideals set by our surroundings.

Those with opposing views to how I see socialism tell me I don’t know anything or that their kind isn’t the bad one. To me, socialism is socialism, no matter how you coat it.

Maintaining an open mind and discussing ideas through civil discussion is the only way to maintain our core values. I encourage you all to take advantage, as some of my family and friends in Cuba have never had that liberty.

Michel Johnson-Figueredo is a columnist at The Avro Post and a second year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Humber Lakeshore Campus. ■

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Johnson-Figueredo: IGNITE no longer represents us, the students

Columnist Michel Johnson-Figueredo with a new take on IGNITE’s shutdown of the student voice.

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File photo from 2017.

OPINION

Michel Johnson
Columnist
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

Over the past couple of months The Avro Post has reported on changes to IGNITE, Guelph-Humber and Humber College’s student union.

The changes have further reduced transparency between the union and students. So what is IGNITE really here for? How can they truly represent students when they eliminate us from the conversation?

As we move on with the school semester, more students are becoming aware of IGNITE’s changes. Like myself, many aren’t welcoming of them. As a second year public relations student at Humber Lakeshore Campus, I understand the need for trust between an organization and it’s publics.

IGNITE has diminished that trust.

Since the Student Choice Initiative came into play this fall, IGNITE has chosen to cut students off from Board of Director’s meetings. Rejecting a reporter from The Post back in September and disallowing any student to attend board meetings without executive approval.

The Post has reported on events taking place behind the scenes at IGNITE, revealing by-law changes that would eliminate IGNITE executive elections and replace them with hired positions. Inside sources at IGNITE detailed meetings where employees were told not to speak to student publications.

The Avro Post was specifically mentioned.

The demand for silence by IGNITE towards employees is an indication they wish to control the narrative surrounding the changes. The decisions taken would continue to advance the corporate approach executives and the board are pushing.

The more I share this information — the more I realize our interests are no longer being represented. IGNITE went through an entire rebrand to rebuild itself as more student friendly, what are they now?

Well, instead of promoting and pushing student concerns, they are reducing transparency. IGNITE representatives hide behind their decisions as they continue to be funded with our money.

At Humber Lakeshore Campus, students are constantly complaining about a lack of electrical outlets in classrooms to charge their devices. In a time where the average student is using either a laptop or tablet, charging is a priority.

A simple problem, with no solution or discussion from our student body.

I can’t recall the last time IGNITE used their social media accounts to reach out to students, ask them to come in and talk, attend meetings and communicate our grievances.

I see the irony in IGNITE rallying students to fight against provincial government decisions, but what about their own decisions?

We as students are now needed more than ever for organizations like IGNITE to function. We now hold the influence over their decisions more so than ever before.

The Conservative provincial government, which is controversial within student circles has made cuts, but unlike our school government, they have allowed us to maintain the power to protest, question, criticize and explore their decisions.

IGNITE is on the verge of disallowing that liberty completely.

I have grown tired of being ignored by those who are elected by students and now believe they are above students. The consistent deflections and arrogance has created an environment ripe for change. From the top to bottom, change must come.

As IGNITE continues to make choices that will harm those they represent, the disappointment will only grow. That very same disappointment will fester, and eventually knock on the very door of a Board of Director’s meeting.

As far as we know, the next Special Meeting of the Members will be in mid to late January. This is where students will have an opportunity to overturn IGNITE’s decision to silence us.

Turn out and vote down the by-laws in January and save our student union.

Show them we care.

Michel Johnson-Figueredo is a columnist at The Avro Post and a second year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Humber Lakeshore Campus.  ■

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