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An unprecedented interview turns into a strict dismissal

An in-depth look at the Tuesday meeting.



File photo.


Two reporters from The Avro Post entered the North Campus IGNITE offices early on Tuesday afternoon to interview the president of the student union, who was elected by and is paid by students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.

It was the first time ever that a request from The Post to interview any executive was agreed to during their term, as opposed to when they are candidates. Nearly all the currently elected IGNITE executives and Board directors were interviewed by The Post during their election campaigns.

It was an unprecedented interview that Post reporters prepared for. However, before any questions could be asked of the president’s plans for the coming academic year or about the status of IGNITE’s finances following the Student Choice Initiative, which have not yet been revealed.

“Before we start with the interview, we need to address a couple things and make sure that we’re all on the same page here,” Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite said soon after reporters Kristy Lam and Eli Ridder sat down in a conference-type meeting room.

Hypolite soon turned the conversation over to President Monica Khosla, who asked about The Avro Post’s journalism. “I went through your website and I was just curious to know how you fact-check,” she inquired.

At this point, The Post reporters gave a brief explanation. They pointed out that they look to send multiple reporters to the scene of a story and for exclusives or any other type of reporting, aim to gather as many facts, sources and first-hand details as possible for accurate reporting.

During that explanation, the routine request for comment that The Avro Post sends out anytime there is a story related to or involving IGNITE came up. Until last April, when the executive director suddenly started responding to Post requests for comment, there was little outbound communication from IGNITE.

Hypolite wanted to emphasize to The Post that this was because the student union receives several requests from journalism students a day, a statement they first made at the Oct. 4 press briefing. A new communications policy announced at that press briefing aims to change the speed of replies.

It was previously unclear why the student union only started responding in the spring after largely ignoring The Post for the majority of the previous year.

“I just wanted to make sure that we’re clear that it’s really just a function of availability and that’s trying to ensure that we’re doing the best that we can to do our jobs,” Hypolite added.

After The Post reporters talked about the difficulties of finding balance with covering the student union when IGNITE would largely ignore requests for comment and interviews, Hypolite reiterated a point made at the October press briefing: IGNITE welcomes criticism.

“We’re not interested in only just getting good reviews about us, we believe we’re on a spectrum of continuous improvement, so the truth is the truth and we’re happy to take it on and muscle forward,” the acting communications chief explained.

Hypolite then added: “I think it’s when it starts to get outside of those the boundaries is where there’s challenges”, setting up Khosla to point out the errors.

At the October press briefing, a first of its kind called in response to student journalists asking about IGNITE’s move to cut off Board of Directors meetings earlier in the semester, Executive Director Ercolé Perrone explained that, for the time being, the policy was to allow students to the meetings but Board members could vote to let them stay.

Khosla confirmed this, but said that Post reporting was incorrect regarding this: IGNITE will eventually close off Board of Directors meetings to all students with the exception of when the Board requests a student to specifically attend.

“What was said is that members have traditionally have had the option and the privilege to attend Board meetings, but moving forward, should those same students like to [attend], it will have to be a consensus between the Board members.”

Khosla took issue with the terminology of “phasing out students” used in a story based on what was learned at the press briefing. The executive director said it was part of IGNITE’s “best practice” for the meetings to eventually only be attended by the directors.

The Avro Post stands by the reporting as accurate.

Khosla raised issues with other reporting where the terminology was indeed incorrect. The two errors were also tied to the Oct. 4 press briefing: one where the term director was used instead of the correct “coordinator” and a quote recorded as Perrone’s was actually from Hypolite.

Student journalists were not allowed to audio record during the press briefing, despite IGNITE’s claims that they are always open to campus publications.

Then Khosla made the argument that, because The Avro Post is not officially affiliated with Humber College or the University of Guelph-Humber, it is not “on-campus media”. No independent student newspaper in the country is affiliated with their school as they are “independent”. It is the norm.

After this unusual assertion, Khosla went on say that “IGNITE will not be taking meetings with The Avro Post unless you guys are able to take the steps that are necessary to involve a faculty that can have an oversight on your articles to make sure that what’s being written is actually accurate.”

She added that the reporting is “harming for our organization, and this is harming for the students who do read your articles” and that she is “uncomfortable” reading stories that are not accurate.

Khosla added that she would feel more comfortable if a faculty oversaw The Post’s work. ■

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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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