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Is this how IGNITE wins students over?

A student reporter’s experience with IGNITE.

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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.

Top floor of the LRC on April 18, 2019.

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.
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Rainn Wilson visit postponed

Any updates will be posted by IGNITE.

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File photo of Rainn Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

A 2020 visit to Humber College by Rainn Wilson — who played Dwight Schrute on The Office — originally scheduled for January has been postponed due to an “unforeseen conflict with his production schedule”, IGNITE said in a statement posted on Friday.

“We appreciate your patience as we work towards a new date,” the student union, which has scheduled the actor as a guest for its Real Talks series, posted to its Instagram Story, adding that any updates will be published on IGNITE’s social media and on its website.

Although The Office has been off the air for a few years at this point, the legacy of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. still has a strong grip on pop culture and television as a whole.

The jokes of Dwight Schrute, Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Pam Beasley and all of the wild and wacky employees from Scranton, PA can still be heard quoted both in-person and online.

Wilson won the SAG award for Performance in an Ensemble Cast for comedy series for The Office in 2004, 2007 and 2008 which he shared with his costars of the show.

In the time since The Office left TV, Wilson has founded the website and YouTube channel SoulPancake. The channel tackles the human experience and focuses on those who have the ability to change the world.

Wilson has also been part of numerous movements that focus on the betterment of the planet and has recently switched to a vegan lifestyle. He was involved with Justin Wu’s UN Climate Change project in order to bring aware to the crisis that the global community is facing for the foreseeable future.

Tickets for the event were to go on sale on Jan. 2 and would have been $5 for Humber and Guelph-Humber students and $15 for non-Humber students and guests. Only one guest would have been allowed per Humber or Guelph-Humber student. ■

Reporting by Nicholas Seles;
Editing by Eli Ridder.
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Once again, reporters barred from IGNITE Board meeting

The meeting takes place at Lakeshore Campus.

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IGNITE logo on a Lakeshore Campus building on Dec. 11, 2019.

Two student reporters from The Avro Post were told they could not enter a Board of Directors meeting at Lakeshore Campus on Wednesday evening by Chairperson Neto Naniwambote, once again breaking the student union’s own bylaws.

The bylaws state that Board meetings are open to members — all students — unless the directors then and there pass a motion to exclude the members from the meeting.

Because reporters arrived at what was scheduled to be the beginning of the meeting, it is clear there was no such vote for Wednesday. Minutes released from September and October show no such vote took place.

IGNITE broke its own bylaws when an official told a student journalist in September that she could not enter what turned out later to be a critical Board meeting and continues to do so each time it blocks students without a vote.

In October, four reporters from The Post attempted to find a meeting scheduled to take place in North Campus. Despite being early to the location of where they typically occur, the reporters were unable to find any directors

The November meeting was scheduled to take place in the University of Guelph-Humber. It appeared as though it was taking place inside a conference room on the first floor of the Atrium but reporters were unable to verify.

The organization also removed the exact times and meeting locations that were posted in the summer sometime between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 — another violation of its bylaws that they have not addressed.

As pressure mounts from student journalists and those that follow student politics to create more transparency, IGNITE has been holding Board of Directors meetings without allowing access.

The Board meetings were set for 6 p.m. before the time was deleted from the IGNITE website. Room numbers were also given and can still be previewed via a website cataloging service.  ■

Reporting by Kristy Lam, Eli Ridder.
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Factcheck: IGNITE's claim over executive chats

IGNITE’s president makes an incorrect claim.

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Graphic by The Avro Post.

FACTCHECK

IGNITE is preparing to make several changes to how the student union operates, pending approval by a minimum quorum of students at a public Special Meeting of the Members in January.

In comments to the Et Cetera last week, President Monica Khosla said that the executive team — made up of herself and three vice presidents from Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber — has been speaking to dozens of students about the incoming changes.

The Board of Directors on Sept. 11 approved a series of bylaw amendments that significantly alter the way the student union governs and operates. These amendments are changes that will need to be approved by students in January.

The president, who was elected to a second term last spring, said that the changes were part of many discussions her and the vice presidents have with students.

Khosla then claimed that the executives had “not found one” student that disagreed with those proposed changes.

This is incorrect.

A screen capture of the Humber Et Cetera article where the inaccurate claim is made.

There was at least one student who formally met with Vice President Megan Roopnarine and disagreed with the bylaw amendments.

The student confirmed to The Avro Post that the meeting happened, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

These amendments could end executive elections and give more power to the Board, among other items.

A second student, also speaking to The Post on the condition of anonymity, offered opposition to the changes in casual conversations with executives earlier this year.

This means that the statement that there has been no opposition by any student is factually incorrect.

IGNITE will look to win students over to the proposed changes, however, a series of interviews with students around campus reveal that most are unaware that the changes could even happen.

For those that do, there is a mixed response.

Many students are concerned that student democracy could be undermined by the end of executive elections but others agree that hired presidents and vice presidents will be more effective for finding the right students for the job.

Only the Jan. 22 meeting when students will vote on the proposed amendments will reveal the opinion of students. ■

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