Eli Ridder | Analysis
Late on Thursday, the Humber Et Cetera went live with a report detailing a more in-depth look at the fate of many IGNITE executive platforms — revealing details not previously known publicly.
Link: Humber Et Cetera Report
An interview with Vice President Maheen Nazim, who represents the University of Guelph-Humber, revealed that the suggested IGNITE app core to her platform was not viable for financial reasons.
The vice president of Humber College’s North Campus Jeremy Largo-Afonso revealed his central campaign promise to re-open the LinX Lounge as a student bar was sidelined by private plans already in place by IGNITE to establish the Linx Café.
It also revealed multiple initiatives undertaken by executives that were not on their platforms and never made public until now, just two months before the end of their one-year terms, as well as platform items that were completed.
The elected student officials also explained that they act more as advocates than executives, though they hold “quite a bit” of influence.
“We often take [ideas] to stakeholders, we put it on their agendas and we speak on behalf of the students through us and then its up to them to push that forward, unfortunately that means some things will be either stopped and some things will be a go but we advocate as hard as we can to get other people to do it,” President Monica Khosla told the Humber Et Cetera.
President Monica Khosla last year ran on a campaign that promised nothing but advocacy for transparency and accessibility — and so far, the focus has been on accessibility, she confirmed to the Et Cetera.
The president carried out several accessibility focus groups on campus, where she got an “amazing” amount of feedback that she is currently analyzing for needs that will be turned into recommendations.
One of the recommendations was to add accessibility buttons for heavy doors on campus.
Also part of her goals was to put up more braille around campus and closed captions on IGNITE videos. No braille has been yet added to signs.
Khosla also wanted to increase the IGNITE student bursary, expand healthcare benefits and create a more transparent presidency.
She told the Et Cetera that increasing the bursary would have taken funds from elsewhere — though she declined to reveal from where.
Humber Et Cetera reported that Nazim found success when advocating for summer placements for University of Guelph-Humber students, with now six out of the seven programs confirmed to have the opportunities, including the psychology placement program which was just confirmed this week.
IGNITE is currently in talks with the technology department and a partnership is being developed, Nazim told the Humber Et Cetera, saying the talks are still in the very preliminary stages and so she could not give further details.
Nazim also campaigned on establishing discounted prices at nearby off-campus restaurants, but the Et Cetera reported that no progress had been made in that direction. She also said her involvement in Khosla’s accessibility groups initiative was part of her accessibility plans.
LinX Lounge never opened as a bar, but Vice President Largo-Afonso has made notable progress towards increasing study space on campus, and found that a solution for “academic advocacy” in the event of another college faculty strike was already in the works.
IGNITE did not take part in internal talks involving strike policy, but the VP told the Et Cetera he did approach the Humber administration early into his term and found out about the school’s strike policy — which included recent policy changes to allow students to complete coursework during a strike.
Largo-Afonso added that the departments can control how they allow professors to manage coursework during a strike, a policy the vice president said was “something that they worked out internally”.
“The man with a plan”, Graham Budgeon, is working to follow through on several of the bold promises he brought forward a year ago, while others were downsized or scrapped.
An assistive housing strategy was planned to include a landlord database, employed house viewers to inspect potential student living quarters and “awareness seminars” for foreign students was scrapped due to its large scope.
In its place, Budgeon told the Et Cetera that the redevelopment of E Building “will provide a sufficient solution to affordable housing in the area”.
Residence costs start at $8,730 for a school year, according to data from Humber College. The average room price near the North Campus is approximately $550, or $4,400 for eight months.
The vice president wanted to add an IGNITE tab at MyHumber — an effort that is ongoing with the technology department at Humber College. Budgeon said Nazim was also spearheading the initiative.
Budgeon’s platform also included a fee protocol which would allow students to opt out of certain student fees, which he said was “designed for health and dental benefits and that is something students can do.”
IGNITE is now standing up against optional student fees imposed by the Ontario government in sync with student unions across the province, largely for their own survival. It is not clear by the Et Cetera report what fees he believed could be optional.
Another part of Burgeon’s platform involved the idea of bringing “societies” on campus, an initiative planned as an online portal to introduce students from different programs to each other and bring relevant polytechnic multidisciplinary projects to academics.
While the initiative will no longer be based digitally, Budgeon told the Et Cetera it will be embedded in a work integrated learning program that Humber College has under development — a program that brings real-life career opportunities to the classroom.
To improve student employment, Budgeon talked about work study 2.0 — which is more aligned with “a new project in the works among multiple players within the institution”.
The project is called the Institutional Learning Outcomes, that Budgeon said are “essentially core competencies that the institution feels all Humber students should graduate with.”
It is not clear when the ILO initiative and work study 2.0 will come into effect.
The executive, who had the largest item-by-item platform of those currently elected also worked to tackle mental health via wellness initiatives in collaboration with on-campus partners, including the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre.
He is also helping develop the Student Wellness Calendar which will display holistic factors and holistic events for wellness on campus, he told the student newspaper.
The vice president said he has been working on the calendar — under development since November — which will include events like fitness activities and workshops.
Image of the executives from IGNITE. With files from Christian Aguirre of the Humber Et Cetera.