Eli Ridder | Report
For the first time ever, journalists from The Avro Post were admitted inside the offices of IGNITE where the executive director willingly gave an interview — journalists were there for a budget that the student union insists no one will read nor does anyone want.
Ercole Perrone made the point that this year’s budget is not finalized yet due to the chaos of the government-imposed Student Choice Initiative. But when asked by our reporter about posting last year’s full budget instead of an infographic, he shrugged the question off.
These are the facts: The majority of students don’t care about the budget of their student union but out of the about 25 per cent of students that vote year-over-year, this could matter to them. Some have told The Avro Post that they trust IGNITE and that a more in-depth budget is not necessary to post.
However, others publicly, privately and anonymously have spoke up over what they see as a lack of transparency. IGNITE has, for the years since it was branded as a student union for both Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, experienced issues over transparency several times.
IGNITE annually posts an infographic that critics have said shows a lack of financial transparency because they do not know where the $10 million of the student union’s budget goes. The money comes almost entirely from students in a $75 fee.
A fee that is now at least partially optional.
The Avro Post was able to send journalists only because we asked our reporters to email Mr. Perrone as individual students after the March Annual General Meeting when the executive director said students could come to his office to see copies of the budget.
When our reporter showed up on Monday, she revealed that she was with The Avro Post and said she would turn on a recording for transparency’s sake. There will be a second meeting on Friday with two our journalists that will build on what we learned in the first interview.
The Humber Et Cetera, an official but academically-tied student publication, was able to interview the executive director earlier this month.
IGNITE continues to ignore requests for comment from The Avro Post as an organization and a reporter was blocked from a Board of Directors meeting because he “was not a student”, despite the fact that he had a student number and was registered for the fall.
The critical Board of Directors meeting went uncovered.
IGNITE continues to insist students do not want what many call a “line-by-line” or more detailed budget but several students have made it clear they want one for transparency’s sake. This fall, students will have the choice to de-fund IGNITE, and there will many who decide to fund it and some who do not.
The question being asked here by student journalists is, if it is a time when the perception of transparency matters a lot so that students trust the union can use their money wisely to their benefit, why not try every way possible to be so?
Image of IGNITE from The Avro Post.