Eli Ridder | Opinion
When I arrived at Humber College on Thursday evening after spending several hours commuting from Guelph, I was looking forward to covering the final, and very critical, IGNITE Board of Directors meeting.
I arrived around 5:10 p.m. and made my way to the top and sixth floor of the Learning Resource Commons to wait for the meeting to start. This floor is where the administration of the college works.
I went in search of the room where the directors would gather but I found it was down a hallway with signs marked “employees only past this point”, a sign that did make sense to be there because of the floor the meeting was on but did not appear very inviting.
I then went to takes pictures of the campus from the beautiful top windows of the LRC while contacting one of the Board directors about the meeting, to confirm that it started at 6 p.m. as the website indicated.
The director informed me that it was actually 5:45 p.m., a time that IGNITE did not post online iron their social media at any point in the last week or earlier. So, before 5:40 p.m., I made my way to the room, knocked and started to open the door, seeing the board members inside.
However, I was confronted by Executive Director Ercole Perrone, who said that I was not allowed inside because I was not a student.
So let me interject with some context here. I was a University of Guelph-Humber student off and on up until recently and had been covering IGNITE since October 2017.
In February, I was allowed in a Board meeting even though I was not attending Guelph-Humber at the time.
Maybe that was a mistake and I should not have been there but no one ever approached me about it and I was reporting for The Avro Post as an invested community member, and I knew I was returning back to Humber in the fall.
This time, I was attending the student union meeting — which is open to all students in the spirit of transparency — as a journalist for the independent student publication and as an accepted and registered Advanced Journalism program student.
I pointed this out to Mr. Perrone, who said insisted I could not be there because I started this fall. I do have a student number and have started paying tuition fees, so I found that inaccurate, but that is definitely my opinion. Reaction has been mixed.
However, aside from this, the facts are that I am a “future student” starting in September who is interested in the college and how the student union works.
For a future student — a student, by the way, that will choose whether to opt-out or continue funding IGNITE this fall — to be blocked from a public meeting of the student union’s board does not look good transparency-wise. I write that analytically.
It does not look good for only independent student publication that has worked hard to report the facts — whether perceived as good or bad — on the student government to be shut out of the single most important meeting of the year.
IGNITE will be fighting for its very survival come fall, and while all of the current executive team are moving on, President Monica Khosla was re-elected and will be leading a new executive and Board of Directors into optional student fees this fall.
But, during a year where many of the current executives dropped platform items without notice, an Annual General Meeting was held without a live stream and IGNITE has defiantly ignored the independent student press and student activists, will students choose to fund the union?
On the other hand, IGNITE executives have successfully carried out 13 clear initiatives, some of which were on their platforms, and the student union has expressed their defiance of the provincial government’s mandated Student Choice Initiative.
“Progress is made through open and honest conversation,” reads the description of Board meetings on the IGNITE website, inviting students to attend in-person and get engaged. It is up to you to figure out if the were being “open and honest” on Thursday.
Take everything into consideration over the past year.
Is this how IGNITE wins students over? You tell me. The Avro Post will continue to report but is it you that makes the judgements. And this, fall you will have a significant way of making your voice heard.
Image of IGNITE from The Avro Post.