Arnold Samson | Report

Amidst backlash from students over IGNITE’s financial transparency, a post was made on Monday morning calling for the release of a more in-depth operating budget by fourth-year psychology program student and campus activist Hannah Derue on social media.

Traditionally, IGNITE has released an infographic detailing the six categories where its $11 million annual budget gets split into, and at the Annual General Meeting last month, it was no different, sparking backlash from some students that have called for a “line-by-line” budget.

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Instagram Post by Derue, 2019

The Avro Post has reached out to obtain a comment to respond on this post and of other public occurrences of IGNITE refusing the release of information from Derue, and this was what she had to say for own account*:

“As someone who has managed a political campaign, I see the poor financial transparency as a PR issue that could have students opting out in droves. I want to make it clear to IGNITE that students may become disenfranchised from the student union and choose to opt out, risking the status of programs that students benefit from. There have been far too many student union finance scandals in recent weeks and months.” She simply states that the only thing IGNITE need do at this moment is release a line-by-line budget that details financial operation for 2019.

 

With her own personal opinion, Derue states that ” As mentioned previously, there have been many student union scandals in Ontario related to finances in recent months (ex- Ryerson and St. Lawrence). Students have always had tight finances, and they want to know that their money is being used in effective ways that give back to the community.”  This is in reference to a recent scandal by the Ryerson Student Union when student finances exceeding $200,000 was inappropriately spent.

When further questioned, she clarifies how the point of opt-out being available for fall 2019 is relevant to Ignite’s public accountability; “Not only are student union finances relevant now especially within recent news, finances have always been something on the minds of students.” Derue states that due to the recent changes to student financial budgets by the Ontario government, students will be more inclined to opt-out.

In the caption of the post, Derue states “No more infographics.” In reference to Ignite’s method of publishing information, Derue responded that “IGNITE has traditionally only posted infographic summaries of their budget, which don’t delve into the dollars-and-cents realities of where approximately 11 million dollars in student fees go each academic year.”

“Humber College is the largest college in Canada. IGNITE, by proxy, is the largest student union in the country. They have a huge responsibility to be honest and accountable with students, and they have not upheld their end of the bargain. This is relevant now because if students aren’t satisfied they risk jeopardizing the existence of the entire student union.” says Derue.

 

The caption also contains “Sanction a student newspaper… stop dodging questions from the students (and student reporters)”. Derue makes this statement more prominent by explaining that she has repeatedly reached out to IGNITE officials to see the line by line budget, as was requested by Executive Director of IGNITE Ercole Perrone during the AGM. She has not received a response.

In Derue’s experience; “I personally feel that it is shameful that a student union would not allow for the presence of a sanctioned campus wide student-lead news source at a university and feel that there has been a gross abuse of power in that regard. I think that if you look to any other university in Ontario, student unions are held accountable by student press, and must work closely with them in order to keep students engaged and informed. IGNITE has openly cut off lines of communication by muzzling the student press, and it shows where their priorities are.”

 

She also states “students…  pay your wages” in the post, prompting her to send this message; “I say this as a reminder to IGNITE that their income is at risk. This is far more serious than they are likely estimating, based on their overwhelmingly poor response to the student choice initiative.”

Publicity on Campus and Online

When asked about the recent posters and sticky notes, Derue commented “I have read the article on the postings and sticky notes. I agree that the student union will need to be mindful that censorship and freedom of speech on campus is important to the students they represent. They will need to answer to the call for a public line-by-line budget.”

Lastly, included in her post is a hashtag of “#GHFutureStudent”, which is an open hashtag that is normally reserved for posts for prospective students to promote Guelph-Humber online and to be inclusive to applicants that want to attend Guelph-Humber. when asked if this post is meant to be public awareness for future students about IGNITE, Derue simply answered that “Adding that hashtag served two main purposes: To inform students of the situation they may be entering in the fall, and hopefully to have IGNITE recognize that this is something that students enrolling for fall admission will be aware of.”

With the current rise in students’ demand for accountability, there seems to be a disconnect between IGNITE and its body of students. Although Derue may not speak for all students, it seems that some students,  including those at The Avro Post are now asking questions regarding not just finances, but the legitimacy of general IGNITE operations:

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Instagram Post by TAP, 2019

Through this seemingly long and strenuous hunt for answers, most students simply want to ask IGNITE: Can you please inform us of what is happening in our student union?


 

Edit: Derue responded to questions for comments on April 2nd 2019

Featured Photo: Ignite logo, The Avro Post

Top: screen captures of Instagram post and caption made by Derue

Bottom: screen capture of Instagram post by The Avro Post

 

Written by Arnold Samson

Arnold Samson is a 1st Year Psychology student at the University of Guelph-Humber and is currently writing for The Avro Post as a journalist, which he joined in March 2019. Feel free to contact Arnold at arnold.samson55@gmail.com.