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Former student union president questions IGNITE moves

As IGNITE cuts off the Board, a student union expert weighs in.

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File photo of Jack Fisher via The Ontarion.

Jack Fisher, former president of the University of Guelph’s student union, questioned on Thursday the legality of IGNITE’s statement banning students from attending Board of Directors meetings without special permission from its executive director, telling The Avro Post that provincial law does not explicitly ban members from forming a gallery at a Board gathering.

Citing provincial law, the student union on Wednesday said that students were no longer allowed inside the Board meetings, where decisions are made related to IGNITE’s usually $11 million budget. The directors are elected and paid for by students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.

“There is no part of the Ontario Corporations Act that says, in any way that ‘only the directors’ have the ‘right to attend meetings’, Fisher said. He added: “This could be something from IGNITE’s own bylaws that were amended post-conception — as most corporations do, but citing the OCA in this way does not  look to be a fact.”

The act also specifies that public meeting minutes must be made accessible to all members, unless the Board of Directors have voted to hold all meetings in-camera. This type of move could not have been made by the Board in a formal vote as there has been no meetings since Aug. 14, the last known date when the website still encourages students to come have “open and honest conversation”.

It was this Ontario Corporations Act that IGNITE cited when they published a memo online saying that students would only have access to the meetings with approval from Ercole Perrone, the top staff member at the student union. The note also states that past meeting minutes would only be available if an interested party contacted Perrone, in direct contradiction with the OCA, which states that public minutes must be available to members.

While the OCA does outline specific rules pertaining to members meetings, such as annual general meetings and additional “general member” gatherings, it does not detail specifics about how board of directors meetings are run. It only covers director responsibility, election, removal, and general business.

IGNITE is considered a non-share corporation under provincial law. Fisher told The Avro Post that, unless otherwise specified, there can be unlimited members of such a corporation. The current constitution of IGNITE defines all members as full-time students who have paid their activity fees as members, which poses a contention because that fee no longer exists as it has now been split up due to the Student Choice Initiative.

Technically , IGNITE is operating with a faulty constitution which is likely to change via a ratification process at the Special Meeting of the Members. All signs point to that October meeting only being open to those students that stayed opted in to either all the IGNITE fees or at least the governance fee.

When IGNITE argues that only the Board Directors “have a right” to attend the meetings, Fisher questions the legal argument they put forward.

“Is the board the only certified membership?” Fisher asked, answering his own question with a “no”.

“IGNITE holds a Certified Meeting of Members and and Annual General Meeting. Hosting a CMOM and allowing the student vote implies that anyone eligible to attend would be a member,” he continued. Essentially, students qualified to go to the Special Meeting taking place in October are also qualified to attend the Board meetings, according to how the law is laid out.

A non-share corporation such as IGNITE is beholden to a board of directors in line with other publicly registered corporations in the province and boards do not by nature or explicitly deny the presence of “members”, of which all full-time students are according to the constitution, Fisher explained.

“It is my belief that they have a responsibility to the student body to be transparent with their fiduciary duty. Even though the students vote on the decisions of the board once a year,” the former CSA president told The Post.

“There is nothing that prevents a silent gallery from existing at a board of directors meeting.”

Despite the fact that a board of directors could vote to go private, or “in-camera”, with their meetings, Fisher told The Post that as a former president he finds it contradictory to a student union’s purpose.

“Student associations like IGNITE have a responsibility to the students they represent to be transparent with their decisions, especially, not excepting, when those decisions pertain to student fees,” he explained.

“While it’s a tough time right now with the Student Choice Initiative, it would be best practice to begin new habits of transparency and communication rather than shutting down student attempts to engage.”

Jack Fisher was the Central Student Association president for the 2018-2019 academic year. Now graduated, he is continuing his studies as a post-graduate at Sheridan for journalism. ■

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Bell Let’s Talk Day coming to Humber

Bell let’s talk day will be coming to Humber on Jan. 29.

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File photo of Humber College

Bell will be bringing their yearly Let’s Talk event to Humber College this week.

Let’s Talk Day is a national day of raising awareness about mental health and furthering the conversation of acceptance, support and to decrease stigma.

The day also encourages the use of various platforms including social media to engage individuals. Bell also donates money to mental health funds based on messages sent throughout the day on their cellular network and social media posts.

Bell will be hosting two events at both Humber North and Lakeshore Campuses on Jan. 29.

The first event will be held at North in the LRC, starting at 10 a.m. and finishing at 12 p.m. The second event will be held at Lakeshore in A170 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is open to both Humber and Guelph-Humber student

Students who wish to contribute to the cause can make a tweet, a social media video, use Bell’s Facebook frame or Snapchat filter and also use the hashtag #BellLet’sTalk on social media. ■

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Exclusive: Guelph-Humber will not be moving as strategic plan is developed

There are no plans to move the university as a new strategic plan is developed.

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File photo of the University of Guelph-Humber on Sept. 24, 2019 by Eli Ridder/TAP.

The University of Guelph told The Avro Post on Friday that there are no plans to physically relocate the University of Guelph-Humber “at this time” amid an ongoing process to develop a new strategic plan expected to be completed by the spring.

After a report revealed that last year that Guelph-Humber’s sole building at Humber College’s North Campus was over capacity and there were unverified rumours that the university would be moved, questions arose over its future.

Guelph-Humber was established in 2002 through a partnership between the University of Guelph and Humber College.

Officials pointed to a new webpage dedicated to bringing together all resources to do with the partnership between Guelph and Humber including an operational review undertaken during the fall of 2017.

There has not been a new strategic plan since the governing framework of Guelph-Humber was written in 1999 to establish the university and so a year-long process was launched last May to make a new plan, according to a press release from the presidents of Guelph and Humber.

Guelph-Humber graduates receive a bachelor’s degree from Guelph and a college diploma from Humber. Guelph-Humber students have access to many of the supports provided by Humber and are also members of the IGNITE student union. ■

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A new era for IGNITE

The next generation of directors will have new challenges.

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File photo of the IGNITE symbol.

With the passing of several bylaw amendments on Wednesday at a Special Meeting of the Members, IGNITE on Thursday strides into a new era with five months of decision-making behind it.

Elections will start in a matter of weeks and, for the first time in its history, the student union will not be electing executives. There will only be candidates for the Board, which sits at the top of IGNITE. 

There will be open seats at Humber College’s North, Lakeshore and Orangeville Campuses as well as at the University of Guelph-Humber. This next generation of directors will preside over a very different student union then the one the current term was handed last April.

In some ways, there will be more certainty.

They will enter a student union that has been reset with a new, more corporate direction moving forward through a new base rule: By-law No. 1 — which resets the rules for IGNITE with the bylaw amendments that students passed at the Special Meeting of the Members, combined with the skeleton of the previous Constitution.

That is not to say there will not be challenges. Chief among them will be the ongoing legal struggle over the Student Choice Initiative. Currently, the province is looking to appeal the decision made by the Ontario Divisional Court to strike down the initiative.

Several student unions, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, have cancelled opt-out portals, ending its optional student fees and returning to the previous status quo of 100 per cent mandatory fees.

IGNITE reiterated its position on Wednesday that it would not end optional student fees while the SCI was in essential legal limbo.

If the Ford administration is successful in repealing the court ruling, student union officials said they would not want a scenario where they would have to flip-flop between mandatory and optional fees.

Directors will also have to manage hiring and overseeing the new student engagement coordinators, who will replace the current executive model.

They will be hired staffers within the student union and sit below the executive director and alongside part-time staff, according to graphics released by IGNITE. ■

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