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IGNITE cuts off The Avro Post, demanding faculty oversight

The president pointed to inaccurate reports.

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The acting communications director and president of IGNITE said on Tuesday that they would no longer respond to media requests from The Avro Post until the publication obtained a faculty advisor, pointing to what they claimed were inaccuracies in several articles.

Two reporters were seated in a meeting room inside IGNITE’s offices at North Campus with Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite and President Monica Khosla. The expectation was that the Post would be interviewing the president for the first time, as confirmed earlier.

Hypolite and Khosla said that before the interview could start, they wanted to go over several items. Khosla asked how The Avro Post fact-checked stories before publishing, to which the Post reporters gave a detailed response going over the process, which usually includes audio recordings.

The president, who was re-elected last spring, then pointed out what she claimed were several errors in The Post’s reporting.

The Post reported on Oct. 4 following a press briefing that IGNITE plans to phase out student access to Board of Directors meetings. Khosla said that the report was incorrect and that students will always be able to attend, but only with director approval.

“What was said was that members 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,” she said.

Khosla later specified that the Board will pick and choose which students can stay or who will be kicked out by a majority vote.

The Avro Post had previously reported that the new policy, as of this fall, was that Board members would actively have to vote to not allow a student to be at the meeting, which was announced at the Oct. 4 press briefing.

However, at the time, officials added that, eventually, IGNITE wanted to change the rules and have the meetings be completely private, which Khosla disputed. The Avro Post stands by this reporting as accurate.

It is unclear how students who want to attend the meetings will able to enter as the times and locations were removed from the Governance page on the IGNITE website sometime between Aug. 14 and late September.

When questioned about this, Hypolite said that they would be informing students of future meeting time and locations soon.

The second error that Khosla pointed out was a mistake by Post reporters. The Post reported that Peter Seney was the ex-communications director when he is actually the former communications coordinator. A notice of correction has been made and the stories are fixed with the right terms.

Khosla also pointed out that it was Hypolite that said at the Oct. 4 press briefing IGNITE was supporting the academics of journalism students by facilitating interviews.

Hypolite asked that there be no photography or audio recording taken during the press briefing on Oct. 4 or for what was originally scheduled to be an interview on Tuesday, while at the same time demanding accuracy.

When a Post reporter pointed out that the rule against audio recording was an issue for student journalists and could hinder such accuracy, Hypolite only said: “that’s your position.” ■

Reporting by Eli Ridder, Kristy 
Lam. With files from Arnold
Samson, Melissa Lopez.
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Journalists make Board meetings 'unproductive', IGNITE says

Staff told the Et Cetera that Board meetings are cut off.

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IGNITE’s Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite said that the “participation of a journalist has the potential to make [B]oard meetings unproductive” in recent comments to the Humber Et Cetera, also confirming clearly for the first time that journalists are not allowed.

Staff told the Et Cetera that journalist attendance at the meetings where decisions are made on the fees collected from students would be uncomfortable for the elected directors.

IGNITE recently cut off students from Board meetings, starting with the first one of the semester on Sept. 11, breaking their own bylaws. Because the student union has given at least two sets of conflicting rules regarding attendance at the meetings, it is unclear exactly what the procedure is.

The student union posted a memo on its Governance page after that first meeting saying that students would need permission from the executive director to attend. Executive Director then told Post reporters at the October press briefing that it is actually a vote by the democratically elected directors that block attendees from the meetings.

He added that the Governance page would need to be updated to more accurately reflect the true procedure.

The reason they do not want journalists or students in general at the meetings, officials say, is because there are oftentimes sensitive topics discussed that they do not want in the public eye.

At virtually every other student union in Ontario, Board of Directors meetings are open with the exception of moments when they vote to go “in-camera”, a portion of the meeting that is private.

When Post reporters asked about this technique instead of cutting off the meetings entirely, Hypolite said in October that the organization would “take it under advisement”.

If reporters were allowed inside the September Board meeting, the changes to the

IGNITE also plans to do away with executive elections should a package of bylaw amendments be passed at a January Special Meeting of the Members on Jan. 22, a new date reported by the Et Cetera after reporting earlier that it was taking place on Jan. 16.

Interviews with several current and former student union officials with Post reporters have revealed that the way IGNITE has been operating this semester is highly unusual and out of step with the majority of its national counterparts.

IGNITE officials in October cut The Avro Post off from requests for comment or interviews saying that the reporting carried out by the publication after an Oct. 4 press briefing was inaccurate. Stories since by the Et Cetera appears to confirm much of that reporting.


Journalists not allowed

On Oct. 4, IGNITE officials told The Avro Post that student journalists could attend meetings but they could be asked to leave in a majority vote of directors.

However, reporters have been unable to even find the meetings because the exact locations and times have been deleted from their previous location online, breaking IGNITE’s own bylaws.

Now, it appears that journalists will be permanently cut off from the Board.

If the bylaw package coming to the Special Meeting of the Members in January is passed, the Board’s new unilateral powers will allow them to make decisions without the public being aware until meeting minutes are posted.

Meeting minutes are approved at the next meeting and are supposed to be posted online. However, IGNITE has occasionally taken longer than usual to post them this semester.

Without journalists being at the Board meetings, executives being hired instead of elected and the only other public meetings taking place only annually, some are concerned that there will be a further lack of transparency in the organization. ■

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Analysis

Part 1: Want to run for IGNITE?

Part 1 of a series on how to run successfully.

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ANALYSIS

It’s that time of year again when students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber are starting to ask the questions about running in IGNITE’s elections.

This is a quick primer on what exactly should be considered before getting started, how to prepare and what it takes to win — brought together by analysis of recent election history and interviews with past representatives. It is useful to both those brand new to student elections as well as veterans.

First off, you need to know that the options for elections will likely shrink. Dependent on a vote by regular students at a January Special Meeting of the Members, bylaw amendments could be passed that end elections for the president and vice presidents.

The most recent time that students voted against proposed changes was at a highly controversial meeting in the spring of 2014 when presidential election results were thrown out after a popular incumbent president was disqualified before voting could be completed.

Thus, if you were thinking of running for president or vice president, there is a chance you may not be able to. However, the positions will be be filled by hired students so if you want to apply through the hiring process, that is an option as well.

So, should you wish to campaign be elected into the student union, that leaves the Board of Directors. There are 10 directors this year, but there could be only nine seats up for grabs if no one wants the Orangeville director seat, which appears to only be available when one shows interest.

North Campus, with the largest population of students, has four seats on the Board. Lakeshore has three. Guelph-Humber has two. If there is a director from Orangeville, then there are 10 in total.

Those interested need to submit nomination papers. Then campaigns get underway middle to late February, running for around 10 days. During that time, candidates will be able to put up posters, hand out literature and participate in campaign events.

There are limits to how much a candidate can spend.

For the Board of Directors races, it is usually $100, however, this could potentially see a change when new bylaw amendments are approved in January, but there has been no confirmation because the amendments have not been detailed in full yet.

The presidential candidates could in previous years spend up to $300 and those aiming for the vice presidency of their respective campus could drop up to $200 on their campus.

Vague wording from the Sept. 11 Board of Directors meeting minutes state that the “president term” will be used for the chairperson of the Board. Since the student union has cut off The Avro Post, further requests for clarification went unanswered.

However, if the interpretation of that amendment is meant to define the chairperson as some new “president” figure — which falls in line with what IGNITE officials have been saying in recent months regarding making the Board the “face” of the student union — then possibly the position will be elected by a campus-wide vote instead of an internal Board vote.

There is no evidence to suggest this. But if it does happen, there could be a higher spending limit. Without executive elections, the Board would be more central to IGNITE elections than in the past, and spending limit changes could reflect this.

Other technical factors that need to be considered is that IGNITE election candidates need to be in good academic standing to participate. They also cannot be a president or executive of any external club or student organization. If the candidate is an IGNITE club president, they will have to step down.

But how do you win? The Post has spoken to several former candidates and successful student representatives to get the big ideas on how to win and they will be found in part two of this three-part series on IGNITE elections. ■

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Campus

Humber to mark violence against women day

A ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

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Humber College will on Friday mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women with an Indigenous guest speaker.

The ceremony will start at 11:30 a.m. and run until 1 p.m., though the event page does not list a definite location.

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