Eli Ridder | Analysis

We do not know everything about every candidate but from what has been published on their platforms, posted on social media and said in interviews, we can paint an impartial, objective but analytical picture of how this next administration will work.

The presidency, surrounded by the three vice presidents, works as the top advocate for students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, and usually has initiatives that he or she was elected on to carry out.

The Board of Directors acts as a counter-balance to the executive and its members are charged with holding it accountable, asking questions and passing the annual fiscal budget, and usually numbers nine but now will number 10 due to an Orangeville seat.


The presidency

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Monica Khosla was re-elected, and thus, the presidency will not be changing much from the previous year, according to what she said in public forums and listed on her campaign posters — she aims to improve but not drastically change.

Accessibility and improving transparency were big last year and she told The Avro Post in the first interview she’s given in a year to the publication that she want to “continue to be transparent in her second term”.

Students have cited quick and after-hours responses from Khosla, but the president has ignored requests for comment and interview from The Avro Post since last year’s election results press conference.

Khosla has detailed a platform over the election season that highlights her previous advocacy work and campus accessibility improvements, with the aim to improve it all. She did define four new platforms as well.

Khosla wants to introduce reusable straws and a reusable container program, while continuing efforts to build “awareness on accessibility”, “inclusive environments” and “have precise [and] prompt communication between IGNITE and students”.

The accessibility awareness item and continued communications were already gleaned from the president forum two weeks ago — but the reusable programs and “inclusive environments” have not been noted previously, according to public records.

It is not clear, however, if these are campaign promises as Khosla has consistently stated that she does not run on platform items because she does not know if she can keep them. The president has ignored inquires the entire election season.

However, Khosla told The Avro Post after the elections results press conference on Friday that she worked hard on her campaign and that she will “continue to be transparent in her second term.”

“Whether it’s bad news or good news I really am honest with students and I think that’s something they appreciate because we’ve seen what’s been happening in other schools with the lying happening with other presidents,” said Khosla referring to the Ryerson student union budget scandal.

“I’m not like that, if there is bad news I’ll let you know if there’s good news, you’ll definitely know that as well but I don’t shy away from anything because there is nothing to shy away from.

“I’m open to having any type of conversation at anytime,” she added. Khosla has ignored requests for comment and interview from The Avro Post since coming into office.

Khosla largely vowed to continue her accessibility work and advocating on behalf of students on a range of issues during the campaigning period, even indicating several times that she would not change much about IGNITE. 

This could contrast with newly elected candidates who largely ran to change how IGNITE operates and advocate for its services ahead of the Student Choice Initiative’s optional tuition fees coming into play this fall.


Vice presidents

The vice president-elects — Megan Roopnarine of the University of Guelph-Humber, Simran of Humber College North Campus and Ryan Stafford of Lakeshore — represent a new class of executives, but not a group that is well known.

Vice Presidents IGNITE 2019

Roopnarine carried out an interview with The Avro Post, where she made the point that she would advocate for improving the students’ academic experience, bolster student financial security and make student lives on campus “more enjoyable”.

When it comes to transparency, the vice president-elect would not confirm whether she would definitively vouch for a line-by-line budget to be released by IGNITE, pointing out the already existing infographics published by the student union.

In response to a question over whether she would interact with The Avro Post as an executive in contrast to the 2018 administration, Roopnarine said “not applicable”.

However, her transparency goals do not stop at the relationship between students and IGNITE — one that has been strained in the past — but she looks to establish better communication between professors and students.

“We need to have more of a say in which professors are teaching our courses,” she said, adding that students should have access to course evaluation results where professors are reviewed by their pupils. 

Roopnarine wants to work closely with academic program representatives, or APRs, adding that “if certain professors aren’t performing effectively, we as students should know what is being done to change that.”

Simran — who The Avro Post learned on Friday only goes by the single name from IGNITE staff — did not give an in-depth or wide-ranging interview to The Avro Post or Humber Et Cetera and is really a mysterious vice president-elect.

On the IGNITE website, Simran says she advocates for improving students’ academic experience, improving student health and wellness and help improve students’ financial security without describing how she plans to do that.

There is a little more known about Vice President-elect Ryan Stafford as The Avro Post was the only on-campus media to cover the Lakeshore Campus candidates in-depth and only Stafford’s competitor Ostap Pavliuk talked to the publication.

“The hardest thing is the communication right? That would be something to focus on. Trying to get information out to students because, yeah, we put up posters, and post social media stuff, but are people really looking at it,” Stafford told Skedline.

Stafford did reveal to Skedline that he wants to focus on improving communication and addressing mental health on campus along with tackling student issues on campus and how to improve the student condition.

“I’m focusing on mental health and wellness, so trying to bring Humber the resources to deal with that,” Stafford said, adding he’s looking for “a way to relieve stress…many people have said they would enjoy puppy yoga.”


Board of Directors

The Board of Directors has grown to 10 members and the new class of 2019 is made up of a variety of candidates with differing platforms, ideas and goals during the tenure of the next administration.

Humber College’s North Campus has four directors-elect who were all acclaimed without competition — Dishant Passi, Shawayne Dunstan, Eden Tavares and Neto Naniwambote.

Tavares was the only candidate to give an interview with The Avro Post, where she talked about keeping the “best interests”of students in mind and gave her thoughts on how to tackle optional student fees. 

She would not promise to release a line-by-line budget for IGNITE, adding she was worries it could give students “an unrealistic idea of where the money is being spent.”

IGNITE has an operating budget of around $10 million a year, and produces an infographic with six general categories and multiple sub-categories that has been criticized in the past and the present for its lack of detail.

The other North directors — Passi, Dunstan and Naniwambote — only gave short statements on the IGNIE website that were fairly generic and similar to each other.

“IGNITE provide various facilities to the students of humber. It is responsible, approachable and accessible to all students. In upcoming time students have a great success through IGNITE,” Passi said in his candidate profile.

“The future and success of IGNITE is we make sure students can afford day by day campus life. As student[s] we have a lot expenses in our life, one of the being student loan[s], and every day expenses,” Naniwambote said in her profile.

“We cannot afford come to school and pay so much for parking. As a member for IGNITE, if I’m elect I would make sure to fight for affordable parking for students and make transportation for accessible for students who takes public transportation.”

“The future success of IGNITE to me is further students being uplifted by being notified/shown that Humber is a diverse community,” Shawayne Dunstan said for his candidate profile. 

He continued, saying “although IGNITE appeals to many demographics of students with amazing events such as frost, I still believe there is more room to grow in many aspects” — including bettering current services and adding new ones.

“IGNITE will reach a certain pinnacle of success when barely any students are unaware of the capacity and the drive to ease the stress of studies,” he concluded, without addressing the optional student fees that could potentially defund IGNITE.

Over at the University of Guelph-Humber, the only competitive Board of Directors race this election year took place with Erika Caldwell sweeping the electorate with 368 votes and Julia Ciampa taking 201 ballots for the second seat.

Director-elect Erika Caldwell went more in-depth than most other candidates in an interview with The Avro Post — detailing her goals to be transparent and hold the elected executives accountable.

“I believe in open, honest communication, I hold myself and others accountable and I will continually advocate and be a voice for what the students of Guelph-Humber want, the third year Kinesiology student said early in February.

Caldwell said her experience has shaped her into a “strong, honest and inclusive leader who treats everybody with dignity and respect”, adding that she has a “strong ability to liaise between executives and students”.

Julia Ciampa never responded to interview requests and was not present at election forum events, however, her platform was well-detailed on her campaign social media account on Instagram.

Ciampa called for expanding the budget for financial bursaries “in order to allow additional students to receive support”, advocate against the recent changes to student grants by the Ontario government and work with the executives and University of Guelph-Humber senators to “ensure exception education”.

Under the heading “remote student engagement”, Ciampa said, if she is elected, she wants to “continue to create events in order to foster school spirit and pride” and hold an end-of-the-year event.

In a platform item unique to Guelph-Humber, Ciampa said she wants to create an online counselling service that is confidential. Currently, students are referred to the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre for mental health care.

Ciampa also aims to “bring forth initiatives such as ‘The Friendship Bench’ and Canadian Mental Heath Week”.

As for the Lakeshore Board directors-elect, the trio — Asiya Bashir Awan, Camila Ruiz Tacha and Stephanie Fallico — were, like North Campus, acclaimed because there were only three candidates for that many seats. 

Awan and Tacha were the only Board candidates to make an appearance during the Feb. 13 election forum events at Lakeshore, and gave details on their platforms and goals for IGNITE.

Tacha says her platform is based on three main goals: Providing financial help to students, specifically international and out-of-province students, promoting mental health and creating more projects about accessibility on campus.

“I have talked to a lot of international students that tell me there are not enough scholarships or grants that are provided to them,” Tacha told The Avro Post.

“I want to try to push for more grants that can help those international students instead because they have more costs than we do and it would be really helpful for them to get that money back”, saying students should vote for her because of her involvement around campus and her passion for students.

When asked about being transparent with independent student publications like the Avro Post, Tacha said it helps with getting students informed.

“I think it’s really great that you guys are able to go around and talk to everybody and see everyone’s points of view and get it out there. A lot of these elections don’t really get heard by students so I think its a great way to for us to get our word out there,” said Tacha.

Awan said the same when asked about communications with The Avro Post, explaining that she has no issue with being interviewed because she believes it is important for students at other campuses to be aware of what happens at Lakeshore. 

The third year paralegal studies student, who cited numerous volunteer leadership positions, said that students “face the same obstacles” and she wants to be “a voice for all of us”, as well as be more present on campus as a Board director.

The main topic during the election Mix and Mingle event on Feb. 13  was the funding cuts to student fees and Awan said she was extremely disappointed by it, noting that she is a low income student herself.

“One of my goals is to work with students affected and establish what they need within the structure we have here at IGNITE,” Awan explained. The current Board of Directors is also looking for how they can help students come fall financially. 

The sole and first-time Orangeville director-elect, Navnit Sidhu, has only her short profile on the IGNITE site as public information on her campaign, where she outlines her aim to develop “new strategies to guarantee student success”.

Sidhu says she will do this by “continuously being able to recognize and make changes in areas that will cater to the needs of our student body”, adding that IGNITE’s future success happens “through innovating and creating with the ideas of our students.”

“The future success of Ignite illuminates through the success of students at Humber.”

The Avro Post has reached out for more information on how she plans to make this happen.


Will it work?

With a president that vows to continue the current direction of IGNITE that will have to work with a new set of mixed-year executives and directors, many of who publicly supported Margarita Bader, could there be conflict or will it work smoothly?

Tacha and Awan’s stance that elected student officials should engage in the independent student press could put them at odds with the incumbent President Monica Khosla, who has maintained a policy of ignoring The Avro Post.

Roopnarine refused to answer the question, and the other candidates never responded to inquires from The Avro Post, though requests for comment have been sent out again to all those that won their respective races and gained a position.

As for transparency, none of the candidates that were elected confirmed their absolute support for a line-by-line budget detailing the finances of the student union, a move customary with most other unions at post-secondary institutions. 

The elected candidates represent a new class for 2019, and with that, new ideas that are unique. However, they will have to contend with a president that aims to keep the status quo, according to her own words, in a lot of ways.

There will be a dynamic, as there always is, that is unique to this administration, and there will be some who watch for what voices are louder and how the class of 2019 looks to tackle optional student fees and secure the future of IGNITE.

In the next few months, The Avro Post, along with the Humber Et Cetera, Skedline and Humber News will look to decipher exactly how these executives plan to carry out their platforms, what could be dropped and how they’ll change once they get into their roles.


Image of IGNITE from The Avro Post.

CORRECTION: The Avro Post regretfully made a mistake in the

article titled ‘How will the 2019 administration

work?’ where it was written Erika Caldwell

marked her support for engaging in the

independent student press when she indeed

did not in any public remark. The article has

been corrected and Caldwell’s name has been

removed from the sentence.

 

 

 

Written by Eli Ridder

Eli Ridder is a freelance journalist. He founded The Avro Post in October 2017. He writes for Breaking911 and Guelph Politico, among others. Feel free to connect at ELIRIDDER@ICLOUD.COM or at ELIRIDDER.CA

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