This is a critical year for IGNITE, and student unions across Ontario, as now-optional student fees allow for students to opt-out of funding certain parts with their allotment of tuition fees.
Which is why it’s surprising when IGNITE on Wednesday informed one of our reporters that they were not allowed inside the meeting room because there was a policy change that dictated that the Board gatherings were no longer open to students.
Kristine Gavlan, the clubs coordinator with IGNITE, told our reporter that traveled over an hour to cover the meeting that she was not allowed to enter and that the website had changed to reflect that.
We did some research using the Wayback Machine, a service that catalogs websites by taking essentially a snapshot on any given day. The last catalog was on Aug. 14 and on the governance page it read: “Progress is made through open and honest conversation” while inviting any interested students to attend the meetings.
Between then and now it was removed from the website.
That doesn’t look good for a student union that has for year in and year out been accused of a major lack of transparency and is now asking for students to stay opted-in and fund their governance, events, clubs and more.
Whether it is not releasing a real line-by-line budget or ignoring the independent student press or attacking factual reporting, IGNITE has created an atmosphere some see as untrustworthy and unbalanced.
Others, of course, swear by IGNITE and the good work that staffers do throughout campus and the events that bring people together. However, the contention comes in largely when it comes to the student union’s record on transparency.
The problem here is that the Board of Directors handles what is normally the $11 million budget of IGNITE, made up of student fees that you pay, or now, potentially don’t pay. In other words, the Board blocking us also cuts us off from having a record of why and how a decision was made with that money.