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IGNITE confirms what TAP was cut off for

Board meetings will be cut off, in general.

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IGNITE confirmed to another publication that the eventual plan is to close off Board of Directors meetings to students unless they are invited as guests, a development that The Avro Post reported on in October and was considered inaccurate reporting by the student union’s officials.

The Humber Et Cetera reported this week that Executive Director Ercole Perrone said “the intent is to move towards a more formalized non-profit organization style way to work”, meaning that meetings will be closed off from the general student body unless they gain access via permission from directors.

The Avro Post reported in October following a press briefing with IGNITE officials that Perrone said the plan for the student union was to move towards a more corporate future, saying that only directors have the right to attend the Board meetings, citing the Ontario Corporations Act.

Just days later on Oct. 15, IGNITE President Monica Khosla said the reporting on the Board being cut off was incorrect. However, the Et Cetera reported this week that only directors and “guests the [B]oard wants to hear from” will be allowed inside the meetings, confirming that, in general, meetings will no longer be open to any member.

It appears this change will be offered as a bylaw amendment at the January Special Meeting of the Members, however, it was not highlighted in the meeting minutes of September’s gathering when Board directors passed the proposals. A final approval from members, or students, will be needed on Jan. 16 to pass or deny all the amendments in a package.

The current bylaws state that IGNITE must post the times and locations of the Board meetings and that a student can attend as long as directors do not vote in a majority to ask the student to leave. IGNITE removed the times and dates of the meetings earlier this year after denying a student journalist entry to the September Board meeting, breaking their own bylaws.

The Board of Directors is a 10-member decision-making body elected by those enrolled at Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber. It is responsible for upwards of $8 million paid in student fees.

Among the changes to IGNITE’s governance is the end of executive elections. Officials say this move is meant to make the Board of Directors the face of IGNITE while the hired president and vice presidents will focus on leading operations as executive staff members.

Though it is rare, a few other student unions in Ontario also hire their executives. Khosla and Guelph-Humber Vice President Megan Roopnarine are on the record as being for the structural changes.

A third significant amendment that will be up for approval in January is a proposal to give the Board of Directors to pass amendments that will come into effect immediately. It can later be overturned at a large member meeting but it allows directors to have more unilateral power.

It is unclear if all the directors voted in favour of these changes or if it was a smaller-than-unanimous majority to pass the bylaw amendments.

There were some other items passed by the Board including, but not limited to, new classifications of IGNITE membership, document execution being under the control of the executive director and a vaguely worded amendment specifying that the “president term will be used for [B]oard chairperson”.

The new classifications come about because of the Student Choice Initiative and was expected. 

The top classification is “Full-Time Enhanced Members”, which appear to be those that opt-in to IGNITE fees, though there is no specification for those that only opt-in to some. 

“Full-Time Members” and “Part-Time Members” are those who pay only the mandatory ancillary fees. All three classifications are official members of IGNITE and so it is understood they will be able to still vote in elections and at special meetings.

It is unclear exactly what “executive documents being overseen by the executive director” means as an amendment but The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE for clarification.

Another hard-to-understand change is the “president term” being used for the Board chairperson. It is not clear via the meeting minutes whether that means the president’s term in regards to time or the terminology of “president” being applied to the chairperson.

Currently, the Board directors start and end their term at the same time as the executives so it would seem unusual for new amendments to specify that just the chair would have the same term timewise as the president.

It seems more likely that the chairperson position itself could be renamed to “president” to signify the Board’s importance from the student perspective, a goal that Executive Director Ercole Perrone and other officials have said they have committed to in the coming months.

These items will be flushed out in more detail at the Special Meeting of the Member and potentially press briefings that The Post will no longer have access to due to being cut off by IGNITE on Oct. 15 from briefings, interviews with elected student representatives and all other media requests.

There could be other items up for change come January but only the “highlights” of the amendments were noted in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes. ■

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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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File photo for demonstration via Pexels.

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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