IGNITE Vice President Shay Hamilton, who was hired to the student union’s executive in July to represent North Campus, told The Avro Post on Friday that she is ready to fight for students at Queen’s Park and aims to slash wait times for the Humber College testing centres.
In written responses passed on by an IGNITE spokesman, Hamilton also gave her stance on the Student Choice Initiative, saying that she believes it will “negatively impact the most vulnerable students the most”, an opinion shared by student unions across the province.
The vice president, said that IGNITE has supplied nearly $800,000 via its bursary program, but because of the new optional student fees bringing uncertainty to its funding, Hamilton said that the student union has “decided to focus strictly on our Financial Relief Program.”
“On the flip side, I think the Student Choice Initiative will give us great insight into what services and programs appeal most to students based on what they choose to opt-in to,” she added, saying it will serve as a litmus test for what programs can be improved.
The provincial government under Premier Doug Ford in January announced the SCI as part of several changes to post-secondary education which included a 10 per cent tuition cut, optional student fees and slashing grants in the Ontario Student Assistance Program, or OSAP.
The second year Paralegal Education student said she became interested in the role because “I love people and fighting for people’s rights”, writing in response to a question about representing the student body at Queen’s Park that “I would never take on this position if I was not ready to fight for our students.”
On transparency, Hamilton, who resides in Brampton, said that it is “at the core of IGNITE” and she is “a strong believer that the most powerful way to empower people is by being transparent about the work you’re doing.”
The student union has since its 2016 inception been plagued with some allegations and general discontentment regarding transparency, particularly around budgets. Candidates often run on improving transparency, specifically at the University of Guelph-Humber.
When it comes to the independent student press, Hamilton wrote that she appreciates and recommends it, saying that “Humber os a polytechnic school and we want students to get as much hands-on experience anywhere.”
“If a student wants to create a blog and start writing to grab experience and build from the ground why would IGNITE or Humber College not encourage that, it’s exactly what we want for students,” Hamilton continued.
Her opinion could be at odds with two-term President Monica Khosla, who ran an administration from fall 2018 to spring 2019 that entirely ignored The Avro Post. It was even reportedly difficult for the established Humber Et Cetera to get access, according to two sources.
Since April, however, IGNITE’s executive director has granted several exclusive interviews with The Post ahead of major changes coming to the student union this fall.
As for her favourite aspect of Humber College, Hamilton highlighted that that it is a polytechnic institution. This designation means that the school has a variety of programs, usually in technical arts or applied sciences — and Humber is the largest college in Canada.
Hamilton joins President Khosla, Lakeshore counterpart Ryan Stafford and Guelph-Humber Vice President Megan Roopnarine to make up the four-part executive. IGNITE also has a Board of Directors that make financial decisions and meet on a monthly basis during the school year.