Staff | Report
Several posters appeared on Saturday at the University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College on North Campus calling for IGNITE to release a line-by-line budget ahead of the 2019 fiscal year, just days after the Annual General Meeting.
Several of the posters and posted sticky notes were taken down by Sunday morning, but some remained up in less-visited areas of the college. Nearly all of the posters were taken down at the university.
The Applied Sciences Fair and ongoing campus tours were taking place on Sunday, so likely many prospective or incoming students attending this fall may have seen the posters.
“The numbers don’t add up, IGNITE,” the posters read, before continuing to say “the students demand the release of a public line-by-line budget for 2019”. The student union releases an infographic with six general categories for every annual budget.
The poster notes some the category outlines for the 2019-2020 budget — $45,000 for “advocacy”, $69,000 for “student outreach” and $503,000 for “student communications” — and reads “with numbers this big, students deserve more detail.”
It is unknown who put up the poster at this point but many students on campus and candidates for IGNITE in the past have called for the student union to release a more detailed operating budget that breaks down the more general categories, considered a “line-by-line” budget.
In comparison to the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association, the George Brown Student Association and others across the province, Humber College’s student government publicizes significantly less budget information.
The posters were found taped to hallway walls, on tack boards and posted to the doors of the IGNITE offices on North Campus.
Also found posted to IGNITE-only poster boards on the North Campus were sticky notes with messages criticizing what they indicate is a crackdown on free speech.
It has not been any confirmation that the individual or group that put up the smaller notes were the same who put up the posters, but the literature was posted sometime Saturday afternoon.
The policy for IGNITE poster boards at Humber College says that “all postings must be approved and posted by IGNITE”. It was not clear whether there are boards they allow for free posting from any student.
The Ontario government last year mandated campuses across the province to create and follow a free speech policy by January. Humber College created a policy and Guelph-Humber follows the college’s and the University of Guelph’s policies.
The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE executives.
Eli Ridder | Analysis
When Martin Luther defiantly nailed 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Catholic Church on Oct. 31, 1517, he sparked a discussion that changed Christian history for the rest of time and created societal change.
Very few times since then has anyone caused so much disruption. While these posters might not be anywhere near the impact of Luther’s 95 theses, the defiance presented by the posters and notes stuck to walls and doors on campus Saturday draws similarities.
The student union has for years ignored requests from student journalists, calls from invested students and the platforms of other candidates to release a more detailed budget, or “line-by-line” operating budget, that dives deep into where money goes.
Students pay around $75 a year into the student union, but because of the optional student fees coming this fall, students will have the ability to opt-out paying some of this fee. A student union with transparency issues could deter some students from opting-in.
However, the posters do not by far represent the opinion of all students. Many voted for the current president, an apparent mark of support for an administration that has been plagued with questions over what initiatives they get done and their transparency.
On the flip side, these posters mark a shift. If someone or multiple people felt so strongly about the issue of IGNITE’s transparency when it comes to its finances, then it could be there are many out there that more silently feel the same way.
Image of the poster from The Avro Post.