Johnson-Figueredo: IGNITE no longer represents us, the students

OPINION

Michel Johnson
Columnist
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

Over the past couple of months The Avro Post has reported on changes to IGNITE, Guelph-Humber and Humber College’s student union.

The changes have further reduced transparency between the union and students. So what is IGNITE really here for? How can they truly represent students when they eliminate us from the conversation?

As we move on with the school semester, more students are becoming aware of IGNITE’s changes. Like myself, many aren’t welcoming of them. As a second year public relations student at Humber Lakeshore Campus, I understand the need for trust between an organization and it’s publics.

IGNITE has diminished that trust.

Since the Student Choice Initiative came into play this fall, IGNITE has chosen to cut students off from Board of Director’s meetings. Rejecting a reporter from The Post back in September and disallowing any student to attend board meetings without executive approval.

The Post has reported on events taking place behind the scenes at IGNITE, revealing by-law changes that would eliminate IGNITE executive elections and replace them with hired positions. Inside sources at IGNITE detailed meetings where employees were told not to speak to student publications.

The Avro Post was specifically mentioned.

The demand for silence by IGNITE towards employees is an indication they wish to control the narrative surrounding the changes. The decisions taken would continue to advance the corporate approach executives and the board are pushing.

The more I share this information — the more I realize our interests are no longer being represented. IGNITE went through an entire rebrand to rebuild itself as more student friendly, what are they now?

Well, instead of promoting and pushing student concerns, they are reducing transparency. IGNITE representatives hide behind their decisions as they continue to be funded with our money.

At Humber Lakeshore Campus, students are constantly complaining about a lack of electrical outlets in classrooms to charge their devices. In a time where the average student is using either a laptop or tablet, charging is a priority.

A simple problem, with no solution or discussion from our student body.

I can’t recall the last time IGNITE used their social media accounts to reach out to students, ask them to come in and talk, attend meetings and communicate our grievances.

I see the irony in IGNITE rallying students to fight against provincial government decisions, but what about their own decisions?

We as students are now needed more than ever for organizations like IGNITE to function. We now hold the influence over their decisions more so than ever before.

The Conservative provincial government, which is controversial within student circles has made cuts, but unlike our school government, they have allowed us to maintain the power to protest, question, criticize and explore their decisions.

IGNITE is on the verge of disallowing that liberty completely.

I have grown tired of being ignored by those who are elected by students and now believe they are above students. The consistent deflections and arrogance has created an environment ripe for change. From the top to bottom, change must come.

As IGNITE continues to make choices that will harm those they represent, the disappointment will only grow. That very same disappointment will fester, and eventually knock on the very door of a Board of Director’s meeting.

As far as we know, the next Special Meeting of the Members will be in mid to late January. This is where students will have an opportunity to overturn IGNITE’s decision to silence us.

Turn out and vote down the by-laws in January and save our student union.

Show them we care.

Michel Johnson-Figueredo is a columnist at The Avro Post and a second year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Humber Lakeshore Campus.

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