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IGNITE outlines new, corporate direction for the future

Changes to the by-laws are incoming.



IGNITE's North Campus offices on Oct. 4, 2019. Eli Ridder/TAP

IGNITE revealed in a press briefing on Friday morning that it aims to take a new direction towards a more corporate organization, with Executive Director Ercole Perrone saying they eventually plan to completely cut off students from Board of Directors meetings.

The student union ignited controversy earlier in the semester when, for the first time in recent history, IGNITE denied a student journalist entry to a Board of Directors meeting, a 10-member decision-making body elected by those enrolled at Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber. 

The student union posted new rules during that Sept. 11 Board meeting, saying that under the Ontario Corporations Act, “only the directors of IGNITE have the right” to attend the meetings and that special permission would be needed from the executive director to be able to enter.

Perrone clarified that currently students who do not identify as journalists are allowed into the Board meetings if the members of the Board agree. He added that the IGNITE website needs to be updated to reflect this current policy.

Because of the sensitive information that the Board often handles, such as academic concerns, the student union does not want journalists reporting the often frank discussions that take place.

The Special Meeting of the Members was recently listed as “to be determined” on the IGNITE Governance page but officials said Friday that it has been moved to January so that there is more time to prepare the by-laws for approval by the membership.

The Special Meeting, normally held in the fall and originally scheduled for Oct. 16, will be open to all full-time students on campus, regardless of whether they opted in or not.

Also revealed at the briefing was that IGNITE executives moving forward will be hired by the student union instead of being elected. Officials explained that it was part of an effort to highlight the Board of Directors as the highest body of governance within the organization.

These incoming changes, among others, will be making its way through the student union’s approval process previous to coming before the members in January, where students will have a chance to either vote in favour of or deny the updated by-laws.

However, officials said that they would be making a renewed push for transparency in the form of monthly briefings for student journalists, much like the one that took place on Friday morning, and open a request form for press inquires.

Beyond Perrone, Board Chair Neto Naniwambote, President Monica Khosla and Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite was present. Alena Banes, IGNITE’s managing editor, arrived a few minutes into the briefing.

Student response to the changes were mixed. First year journalism student Anthony Giordano said the proposed by-law changes were “unfair” to student journalism.

“I believe it’s only fair that students have the right to be able to find out about these things,” he added, in opposition to the incoming changes to the Board of Directors that will make the meetings completely private.

Questions deflected

The press briefing was held in KX207 above the Student Centre, where chairs were set up in a circle-like fashion. Journalists were able to ask questions of IGNITE officials that were related to the planned by-laws changes.

Chairs in KX207 after the meeting on Friday.

Several reporters, including two from The Avro Post, repeatedly asked questions regarding the decision to close off the Board meetings and how it was made. As members of a non-share capital corporation Board, the directors would have voted to have meetings in-camera, or privately, without allowing students in.

The questions, however, were deflected by officials, who asked that the conversation remained focused around the by-laws specifically and not topics outside of that line of discussion. It is still unconfirmed at this time if the unprecedented decision to cut off journalists from the Board meetings was passed in a vote by directors or made by IGNITE staff.

Due to the more casual nature of the meeting, student journalists were encouraged not to take notes and have more of a conversation about the future of IGNITE. Out of respect for the open conversation between officials and reporters, no audio recording was made of the meeting, and thus, few direct quotes were captured by The Avro Post.

However, there were significant changes introduced and proposed by IGNITE officials for future communication with the student press.

Officials outlined two new ways that reporters would be able to access the student union: a request form on the IGNITE website and potentially monthly press briefings. Just recently, the former communications co-ordinator Peter Seney left the position and a hire is set to start following Thanksgiving weekend.

Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite told reporters that he plans to have the interview request form, which was put back up on the website on Friday, have a 48 hour response time over two business days for when media requests are submitted.

Hypolite recognized that reporters have deadlines that need to be met for publishing, especially with the publications such as the Et Cetera, Humber News or GH360 that are tied to programs and grades.

Perrone added that, beyond these efforts working to improve communications with the student press, it is also IGNITE facilitating the academics of students it represents.

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Andrew Scheer resigning as Conservative Party leader

He will remain as an MP.



File photo of Andrew Scheer via Wikimedia Commons.

After failing to claim a win in the federal election and amid revelations that he used party money to pay for his children’s private schooling, Andrew Scheer said on Thursday he will resign as leader of the Conservative Party.

Scheer said he will remain as leader until a replacement is chosen in remarks to the House of Commons after the news broke, adding that he will ask the party to start the process of a leadership contest. He will remain the member of parliament for Regina–Qu’Appelle.

“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 per cent,” Scheer, who led the Conservatives in winning the popular vote. Because the Tory ballots were concentrated in prairie provinces, the party was unable to win the most ridings.

His resignation comes as a direct result of new revelations that he was using party money to pay for his children’s private schooling, according to Conservative sources who spoke with Global News. The money was spent without permission from the Tory fund board.

Though the decision to resign was not made lightly, Scheer cited conversations with his loved ones, and said he “felt it was time to put my family first”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Scheer for his service in parliament and said “I wish him all the very, very best in his next steps” while acknowledging the sacrifices made by the families of politicians. ■

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Once again, reporters barred from IGNITE Board meeting

The meeting takes place at Lakeshore Campus.



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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Province appealing to restore Student Choice Initiative

An Ontario court ruled against the SCI in November.



File photo of Premier Doug Ford.

The provincial government under the Progressive Conservatives is applying for leave to file an appeal against a ruling from the Divisional Court of Ontario that overturned the Student Choice Initiative.

A leave for appeal is a procedural measure that must be taken before an appeal is heard by the Court. Thus, the ruling of the Court stands and the SCI continues to be deemed unlawful.

The initiative, known as the SCI, was introduced earlier this year and came into play this fall semester. It allowed students to opt-out of paying certain “non-essential” ancillary fees that fund student unions, campus publication and other post-secondary organizations across the province.

The mandate came from the university and colleges ministry and was not passed through Queen’s Park. PC Party officials insisted to The Avro Post that it allowed for freedom of choice, allowing students to pay only for services that they felt was worth their financial support.

In response, the provincial division of the Canadian Federation of Students and York University’s student union filed a legal challenge against the SCI, stating that they failed to consult with students and should not have interfered with the autonomy of student unions.

Judges ruled unanimously in November to throw out the SCI, an unexpected victory for student allies. They found that the government has “no legal power to control the universities even if it wished to”.

A brief filed by the province on Monday evening states that the ruling restricts the authority to attach conditions to the funding given to public colleges and universities, according to reports by student newspapers.

“Attaching conditions to government grants in no way interferes with university autonomy and independence,” the brief reads, adding that post-secondary institutions “remain free” to accept taxpayer dollars, subject to the conditions that come along with the funding.

Over $5 billion comes from provincial coffers to the province’s 21 publicly assisted universities and 24 funded colleges. The Progressive Conservatives argue that the introducing optional student fees is an attempt to allow students to save more financially.

The court ruling, however, pointed out that the optional ancillary fees are a small portion of what students pay in tuition and other fees. For students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, there was only a charge of $55.95 compared to hundreds in overall fees.

The Winter 2020 semester starts in January and fees are due shortly. Some campuses are currently considering their legal options for removing the opt-out option for ancillary fees, The Globe and Mail reported.

IGNITE did not participate in the lawsuit against the province and did not offer support. The student union also refused to respond to the November ruling against the SCI until the government gave a statement. ■

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