Re-‘IGNITE’ our union’s accountability to students

OPINION

Anonymous
Our Opinion Policy

Student unions are no strangers to controversy.

Earlier this year the Ryerson Student Union was audited after $273,000, in questionable expenses were discovered. Thousands spent on nightclubs, hotels, and other potentially questionable expenditures.

The school has since launched a forensic investigation into $700,000, worth of expenses that occurred over nine months. While some students may not think twice about their union while in college or university, it’s crucial to hold them to account.

Transparency from student unions should be expected, and officials should be forthcoming with information.

In 2018, Humber’s IGNITE managed a budget of $11,133,000. Of that total, just $197,000, is derived from “programming related” and “ancillary operations” revenue.

Humber students contribute the rest through dental fees and newly optional student fees. Almost 11 million dollars of student cash may be used at the discretion of our elected officials, do we not have the right to know where it’s going?

As the weeks pass, it seems IGNITE is becoming more and more tight-lipped.

Early in September of this year, they denied our reporters access to the previously open board meetings. The reason? So they can talk about pressing matters without censoring themselves.

While a reasonable person will see their point, they are discussing issues that are funded by you the student body. Later that month IGNITE’s board of directors were instructed not to speak to campus media and that all requests should be directed to their public relations representative.

Another ridiculous move considering all members elected are there to represent the students, not IGNITE. If they’re concerned about their brand as a student union over the students, then we have failed in selecting these so-called ‘leaders.’

It’s disturbing how bold IGNITE is in their quest to silence campus press. They claim “non-journalists” are able to attend their board meetings; however fail to provide details as to where these meetings are held, simply citing the excuse “information is coming.’ How long will this answer be acceptable?

IGNITE, and The Avro Post sat down for a much-anticipated interview this afternoon, the results paint a disappointing picture of the condescending ‘you can’t touch us’ attitude our union holds.

Instead of answering questions, IGNITE flipped the conversation to The Avro Post and how we conduct our publication and write our content. Let us not forget; we are students of Humber and Guelph Humber!

The fact students walking the halls take an interest in journalism, writing, accountability, and a search for the truth does not mean we lose the right to ask questions nor the credibility to share this information with our audience.

During this so-called “interview”, IGNITE made it clear to The Avro Post that students interested in sitting in on board meetings will have to make the request on a case by case basis.

Does this mean a student could travel to the meeting only to be turned away by an in the moment decision by the board? Seem’s like an effective way to discriminate against students that the board might deem as ‘unfavourable.’

During this meeting, Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite and President Monica Khosla made it clear there were to be no audio recordings. If The Avro Post has an issue with fact-checking as IGNITE would like to believe, it is in their best interest in letting campus media record interactions.

It allows journalists to publish accurate information and defend themselves against crooked organizations that claim the publication is lying. I highly doubt IGNITE is adopting this rule to make it easier for The Avro Post to falsify information potentially. We’re left with few other ideas as to why this is happening.

Students need to hold their union to account. They don’t exist solely to plan frosh among other headlining events; they exist to represent the student body and fight for our rights, something Khosla proudly announced to first-year students at orientation this year.

I would implore IGNITE to put their $11 million where their mouth is and start to live up to this already deflating promise.

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