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IGNITE posts agenda ahead of Special Meeting

It does not highlight the amendments.

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IGNITE on Friday published an agenda light on details for the upcoming Special Meeting of the Members within a post that listed just two of the seven bylaw amendments the student union will bring forward to members for final approval later this month.

Amid confusion and some backlash over the set of proposals, IGNITE said in the post that the amendments are “minor” and “will be in your best interest”. Full-time students will be able to vote on the propositions as a combined package at the Jan. 22 public meeting.

The amendment proposals include ending president and vice president elections in favour of a hiring process, giving the Board more unilateral power for future amendment approval and splitting the union’s membership into new classifications, among other items.

The Board of Directors, made up of 10 elected students from Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber, passed the amendments last year at its September meeting.

In an update posted on the student union’s website without notice at some point on Friday, IGNITE states that “change means making strategic decisions that help students like you”, adding that the policy updates are to “align with the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act.”

It is the first time that IGNITE has confirmed the bylaws coming to the Special Meeting, or SMOM, outside of highlights of the amendments found in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes. However, the agenda does not include all of the amendments elected directors passed last year.

Emelia Maceášik, who ran in 2018 to be a University of Guelph-Humber senator, questioned the changes and the description IGNITE gave them in their latest post. They asked: “Are the changes for the benefit of the students, or to benefit Humber College as a corporation?”

“How exactly are any of these minor, and if there is actual backlash then IGNITE should reconsider how they are communicating with students and address our concerns in an open and accessible way,” Maceášik, a fourth year psychology student, said in comments to The Avro Post on Saturday.

The SMOM will start at 11 a.m. from the Student Centre at Humber College’s North Campus. Much like the presidential forum of the 2019 election, it appears IGNITE will also simulcast the SMOM to the Student Centre at Lakeshore Campus.

IGNITE on Friday also released meeting minutes nearly a month late for November’s Board of Directors meeting. The records reveal that IGNITE lost North Campus Director Shawayne Dunstan, without going into specifics on why.


What are the changes?

A “summary of the proposed changes” listed by IGNITE in their Friday post included:

  • the amendment to end executive elections in favour of a hiring process.
  • the amendment divide members into the three classifications of part-time members, full-time members and full-time enhanced members. The “enhanced members” would be those students who opt-in to one or more optional fee at the beginning of the semester.
  • a statement saying that the Board of Directors “will now be the face of IGNITE, rather than the executives”, which is not a formal amendment.

IGNITE did not include the other five formal amendments that were listed in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes. The directors also propose:

  • giving the Board of Directors power to unilaterally pass amendments, without approval by members to come into effect.
  • using the term “president” for the Board chairperson role.
  • the executive director, IGNITE’s top staffer, overseeing the execution of documents.
  • having an updated list of required agenda items for Annual Meetings.
  • clearly defining mandatory and optional fees.

The agenda is posed on the student union’s homepage. Featured right below it as of Saturday is an Oct. 29 blog post that gives further explanation for ending the executive elections, a proposal that first came to light at an Oct. 4 press briefing.

It is unclear why IGNITE did not include all of the proposed changes in its post, or why the bylaw amendments were not included in the agenda itself. Student unions across Canada usually disclose more details ahead of member meetings. ■

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A new era for IGNITE

The next generation of directors will have new challenges.

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With the passing of several bylaw amendments on Wednesday at a Special Meeting of the Members, IGNITE on Thursday strides into a new era with five months of decision-making behind it.

Elections will start in a matter of weeks and, for the first time in its history, the student union will not be electing executives. There will only be candidates for the Board, which sits at the top of IGNITE. 

There will be open seats at Humber College’s North, Lakeshore and Orangeville Campuses as well as at the University of Guelph-Humber. This next generation of directors will preside over a very different student union then the one the current term was handed last April.

In some ways, there will be more certainty.

They will enter a student union that has been reset with a new, more corporate direction moving forward through a new base rule: By-law No. 1 — which resets the rules for IGNITE with the bylaw amendments that students passed at the Special Meeting of the Members, combined with the skeleton of the previous Constitution.

That is not to say there will not be challenges. Chief among them will be the ongoing legal struggle over the Student Choice Initiative. Currently, the province is looking to appeal the decision made by the Ontario Divisional Court to strike down the initiative.

Several student unions, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, have closed off the optional fees, ending its optional student fees and returning to the previous status quo of 100 per cent mandatory fees.

IGNITE reiterated its position on Wednesday that it would not end optional student fees while the SCI was in essential legal limbo.

If the Ford administration is successful in repealing the court ruling, student union officials said they would not want a scenario where they would have to flip-flop between mandatory and optional fees.

Directors will also have to manage hiring and overseeing the new student engagement coordinators, who will replace the current executive model.

They will be hired staffers within the student union and sit below the executive director and alongside part-time staff, according to graphics released by IGNITE. ■

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Constitution formally replaced with ‘By-law No. 1’

It awaits AGM approval.

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Following approval by the members of new bylaw amendments on Wednesday, IGNITE has replaced its Constitution with “By-law No. 1”, though it still needs confirmation by the members at the Annual General Meeting.

By-Law No. 1 contains eight pages of rules, a full five pages less than the previous Constitution. It states it will need confirmation by the members on Mar. 22, 2020, a potential reveal of the date set for the AGM, a normal timeframe. ■

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Jack Fisher: ‘I know IGNITE can do better’

An opinion column from Jack Fisher.

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OPINION

Jack Fisher
Contributor
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

I know well the stress that comes from hosting a public meeting as a student leader.

As the organizer of an event like the meeting IGNITE hosted on Wednesday, you know everything that’s going on, and your ideas and your stance seem so incredibly obvious to you.

However, just like so many other places, there are a lot of people that don’t know how to ask the right questions. Just like every comment section on the internet, you can scroll through all the good comments and praise, but the one thing that sticks with you is the negative and uninformed comments.

This stress and frustration tend to build up until there’s a whole flutter of butterflies in your stomach. Even if you’ve spent weeks planning something, its possible that your advertising doesn’t get out on time. You overthink whether you’ll achieve quorum, and you brace yourself for a barrage of uninformed questions and criticism that you imagine will turn into a personal attack as soon as your event is over.

This isn’t to say that I know this is how anyone on IGNITE was feeling on Wednesday morning, but I can imagine the tension that was behind the table on stage today at Humber College’s North Campus. I know the board has probably deliberated all the details for hours.

You could tell from the responses of the board members and chair that they had practiced their reasoning. They’ve been thinking about this for weeks, if not months. You could tell, because what the crowd got as answers was internalized jargon. We heard citations of the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and confident assertions that the decisions were made in consultation with legal professionals.

All of this is to say that, from a student executive position, the Special Meeting of the Members went incredibly well. There was only about 15 minutes of questioning, everything passed as planned, and the meeting itself was exactly 30 minutes long with maybe 70 people in attendance — more than was required for quorum.

Unfortunately, knowing how I felt as an executive, also tells me that there is a philosophical difference between myself and IGNITE.

When I was on the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association executive as president, we hosted one public meeting of this kind; the Annual General Meeting. We put aside almost two hours of time to field student questions, our nerves were running rampant, because one of our biggest principles was transparency with our finances, and clarity of information about process and activity.

So often, student leadership can lead you to working in a small bubble where other people don’t understand what you’re doing or why, but it is so imperative for student unions to be clear, and patient.

I don’t think IGNITE is out to destroy the culture of Humber and Guelph-Humber. I’m sure they know the good work they’re doing. Working firsthand in student support is a self-made internal justification for the decisions you make.

What I saw during the Special Meeting of the Members was a group of students whose hearts may be in the right place, but they have not embraced the communication aspect that some students demand.

Culture of the school aside, I know IGNITE can do better.

I hope this new structure will allow the directors to be the liaisons that I didn’t see Wednesday. Like I said in a letter to the provincial government last year: “proper policy is not created by consulting only those that agree with you”.

The best we can do as student governments is to never stop asking questions, and always keep listening.  ■

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