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IGNITE breaks its own bylaws amid major shifts

A dive into the files reveals broken rules.

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IGNITE officials, including the executive director and the elected student president, have referenced the student union’s bylaws repeatedly to justify drastic changes to transparency while at the same time breaking at least two of their own rules.

Amongst the bylaws currently listed within the student union’s governing documents are rules for publicly posting the “dates, times and locations” for Board of Directors meetings and release meeting minutes “on the website of IGNITE”.

Times and locations for nearly all of this academic year’s meetings were posted online earlier this year but were removed at some point between Aug. 14 and September, according to a website archive service. It is likely they were removed during the evening of Sept. 11, the first Board meeting.

It breaks a rule found within the “Meetings of the Board of Directors“, last amended on Oct. 7, 2015, though uploaded in May, according to the URL.

When asked about the missing times and locations, IGNITE officials told The Avro Post on Oct. 15 that they had no comment.

The question was asked during a meeting that was supposed to be an interview with the student union’s president but turned to criticism of The Post’s coverage and a new policy that IGNITE will ignore media requests until The Post obtains a faculty advisor from the journalism program.

IGNITE’s policy from that first Board of Directors meeting in September onwards was to not allow student journalists in. However, as was later explained at an Oct. 4 press briefing, the bylaws state that the directors must vote to force a student to leave.

According to their own bylaws acknowledged by Executive Director Ercolé Perrone, The Post’s reporter sent to the Sept. 11 Board meeting should have been allowed in and then, should the directors have wanted her to leave, they would have to vote in a simple majority to send her out of the room.

Instead, the reporter was turned away at the door by Clubs Coordinator Kristine Gavlan, who said there was a new policy. Instead, only a paragraph encouraging student attendance was removed from the Governance page without notice at some point between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.

Later that night, IGNITE posted a new policy memo on its Governance page saying that, under the Ontario Corporations Act, only Board directors have a right to be at the meetings and that students would need to contact the executive director to attend.

Policy on the Governance page on Oct. 17, 2019.

Perrone pointed out himself at the Oct. 4 press briefing that this was not entirely correct as there are only two ways to block members of the corporation, which is all full-time students, from the meetings: vote to move in-camera or vote to remove students from a full or partial meeting.

The policy memo still remains on the Governance webpage over a month later.

Four Post reporters scoured Humber College’s North Campus in search of a second Board meeting scheduled for Oct. 9 but were unable to find any directors. In the past, North Campus meetings have been held on the sixth floor of the Learning Resource Commons.

A second rule appears to currently broken by IGNITE regarding meeting minutes.

“Minutes shall be adopted at a subsequent Meeting of the Board of Directors and, following their adoption, be posted on the website of IGNITE and filed in the IGNITE Board of Directors book,” the bylaw in the Board Policy document reads.

Board Director Erika Caldwell, soon after The Post reporter was turned away at the Sept. 11 meeting, said on Instagram that meeting minutes would be posted on IGNITE’s website.

Either the Board of Directors did not pass the minutes during the October meeting, which would be highly unusual, or they have chosen to follow the policy memo that Perrone said was not accurate found on the Governance page. It states students need to get the minutes by contacting Perrone.

The contradictions have not been clarified by IGNITE.

The Avro Post has reached out to the student union for comment. ■

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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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