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Exclusive: IGNITE tells staff to ignore campus press

The move comes amid a new communications strategy.

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IGNITE North Campus offices on Oct. 9, 2019. Eli Ridder/TAP

SPECIAL REPORT

IGNITE told its staff during a regular meeting at Lakeshore Campus last week that they should not speak to campus press under any circumstances, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Avro Post on Wednesday evening.

The instruction to staff comes amid increasing media scrutiny as IGNITE makes significant changes to how the student union operates in terms of governance.

IGNITE has also made recent effort to improve its relationship with student journalists by starting monthly press briefings and re-opening a media request form online. A new communications director is set to start after Thanksgiving weekend and will likely contribute to the changes.

Also during the staff meeting, which took place on Friday, an individual said that Eli Ridder, editor-in-chief of The Avro Post, has a personal vendetta against the student union. Ridder has been covering IGNITE since October 2017 and has denied any such personal agenda.

IGNITE held a press briefing the same Friday where officials answered questions around incoming by-laws, outlined a new, more corporate future and held a discussion about changing the relationship between the student union and the student press.

The press briefing was largely held in response to inquires from The Avro Post and Humber Et Cetera regarding what appeared to be a new policy closing off Board of Directors meetings after a Post reporter was not allowed access to the first Board meeting of the semester in September.

During that Sept. 11 Board meeting, IGNITE put up a memo on their Governance page saying that, under provincial law, only directors have the right to attend the meetings. While the claim is legally sound under the Ontario Corporations Act, it raised questions over precedent and ethics.

It triggered backlash, including an editorial from the Et Cetera where the student newspaper slammed the student union over transparency issues, and lead to the press briefing where officials clarified that students could go to the meetings but not student journalists.

Despite Executive Director Ercolé Perrone’s claim that regular students could still attend, IGNITE still did not put up the room numbers of the Board meetings that were taken down sometime after Aug. 14, according to a website archive program.

At the time the October meeting’s room location was “to be determined”.

The Avro Post has reached out for comment from the student union. IGNITE represents students enrolled at Humber College campuses and at the University of Guelph-Humber.

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The Avro Post was established as an independent student publication at Humber College’s North Campus in October 2017. Its mission is to report daily news, important updates and in-depth reporting that matters to students on campus.

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