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Johnson-Figueredo: Transparency dies as our representatives look on

A Lakeshore student speaks out.

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File photo by Fredrick Laverie.

Opinion

Michel Johnson-Figueredo
Public Relations, Lakeshore Campus

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.

Students every year elect new governments made up of candidates, with platforms, who ultimately hope to improve life while attending their college or university.

Ever since Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber established IGNITE in 2016, candidate platforms have increasingly been targeting transparency. But the recent actions and choices made by the largest college student union in Canada have been choosing against transparency and representation of the student body.

As a student at Lakeshore since the fall semester of 2018, I worry about where we stand in relation to the power of a student union and the limits they put on student access. On Sept. 11, a journalist with The Avro Post was turned away by an IGNITE staffer while trying to enter a Board of Directors meeting, a meeting that in previous years was accessible by students.

Then candidate and now board member Erika Caldwell herself attended the same type of meeting just last year, a meeting she would now have to require approval from Executive Director Ercole Perrone to attend. These changes, which have been made over the summer, represent the little interest in transparency IGNITE has this year.

Last year, most candidates running for student government ran on improving IGNITE’s transparency with voters and maintaining open dialogue between the student union and those on campus.

IGNITE even has a graphic on their governance section of their website boasting their transparency.

“IGNITE is all about transparency. We’re accountable to you, the student.”

But now, voters may be asking themselves if there was a genuine movement towards transparency or if we have allowed a student union to hide behind closed doors while they make decisions affecting us all.

Michel Johnson-Figueredo, Lakeshore Campus

The Avro Post reported on Sept. 12 that Jack Fisher, former president of the University of Guelph student union, questioned the actions of IGNITE. IGNITE cited provincial legislation but Fisher believes the student government is traversing a grey area, and that the ethics are questionable.

“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.

We’re reaching a time when students should be asking themselves if the words of candidates running for positions within IGNITE could be trusted during their campaigns. And if elected, can they keep their promises.

Students should understand, especially now more than ever what and how their representatives are handling the $11 million that IGNITE is provided. In the 2018-2019 operating budget provided on IGNITE’s website, more than $400,000 is set aside to run the actual government.

How much leverage does the actual student government have when it comes to transparency and conversation with the student body? The student representatives seem to be shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to being transparent.

For those who opted in to the optional student fees and are interested in new information from their Board of Directors, they will have to seek approval to attend a monthly board meeting.

Other than that, a SMOM — Special Meeting of the Members — or the AGM — Annual General Meeting — only happen once a year but are open to all students.

The next SMOM is taking place on Oct. 16 at the Student Centre located inside the North Campus. I encourage you to make your voice heard and demand transparency and accountability from your representatives. ■

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Humber monitoring coronavirus outbreak

There are no special actions at this time.

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Humber College said it is monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak and its “potential impact on the institution” in a statement posted online last week and updated on Monday.

Toronto Public Health told the college that “there are no particular actions required” at this time.

A special group tasked with keeping the campus community informed on the latest precautions for the virus has been established, made up of stakeholders from various departments and the University of Guelph-Humber.

Humber points students, staff and faculty to the Ontario Ministry of Health website’s dedicated webpage for updates.

The college’s announcement also asked that those on campus “wash their hands as frequently as possible” due to it being the winter flu season.

As of Tuesday morning in Ontario, there is one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, one “presumptive” case and 11 cases under investigation. ■

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Nominations open for 2020 IGNITE elections

Nomination packages are due by Feb. 14.

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IGNITE on Tuesday posted details and nomination packages for its 2020 elections on social media, setting up its first ever election without executive positions.

There are 10 positions open for students to run for, all on the Board of Directors.

There are four positions open at North Campus, three seats at Lakeshore, two open at Guelph-Humber and a sole position available at Orangeville.

All nomination packages are due by Feb. 14 and can be filled out on the elections webpage. ■

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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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