Welcome to the Briefing, a new type of article that breaks down a story into a 100 word version, a 700 full-length edition and a point form analysis.
This Briefing is on everything going on with the governance of IGNITE, the student union for Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, since the beginning of the student year.
IGNITE is looking to make several changes to how the student union works.
All of these changes will need majority approval from students at a January Special Meeting of the Members. They were previously approved by the Board of Directors in September.
The proposed bylaw amendments give the Board more unilateral power and end president and vice president elections.
The Board has been hiding the location of their meetings, breaking its own bylaws that specify that exact times and locations are to be posted publicly.
IGNITE recently cut off The Avro Post from press briefings, interviews and all media requests.
IGNITE has proposed several bylaw amendments to how its governance and operations function. Some of these changes have precedent elsewhere but many are uncommon for a student union.
All of these changes will need majority approval from students at a January Special Meeting of the Members, a meeting that any student can attend and have a vote on the changes as a unified package, but not individual amendments.
These amendments were previously approved by the Board of Directors in September. The meeting minutes only give the “highlights” of the amendments so it may not be all of the proposed changes, however.
The most outwardly noticeable change for students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber will be the end of executive elections.
The executive team is made up of the president, who represents all IGNITE members and each vice president, each representing either North Campus, Lakeshore or Guelph-Humber.
Another change that the Board wants to bring about is the ability for their decisions to come into effect immediately after majority approval at a meeting. However, an item approved will still need later approval at a meeting of the members.
If the members — all voting students — vote against the changes at the Special Meeting of the Members, it is unclear if the decision is applied retroactively or if the Board’s decision is simply repealed from the bylaws.
Also, if students are unable to find the Board meetings and minutes are only posted a month later after they are approved at the next Board meeting, students would be unaware for at least 30 days that a bylaw had changed.
The Board did not post the meeting minutes from the May or September meetings until long after the October Board meeting, which, despite efforts from The Avro Post to find it, was hidden.
If The Post was able to enter the Board meeting in September instead of being told to leave in a unilateral move by a staff member, then this publication would have been able to report that these bylaws were passed by the directors.
There were some new items also passed by the Board and up for consideration by students in January including, but not limited to, new classifications of IGNITE membership, document execution being under the control of the executive director and a vaguely worded amendment specifying that “president term will be used for [B]oard chairperson”.
The new classifications come about because of the Student Choice Initiative and was expected.
The top classification is “Full-Time Enhanced Members”, which appear to be those that opt-in to IGNITE fees, though there is no specification for those that only opt-in to some.
“Full-Time Members” and “Part-Time Members” are those who pay only the mandatory ancillary fees. All three classifications are official members of IGNITE and so it is understood they will be able to still vote in elections and at special meetings.
It is unclear exactly what “executive documents being overseen by the executive director” means as an amendment but The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE for clarification.
Another hard-to-understand change is the “president term” being used for the Board chairperson. It is not clear via the meeting minutes whether that means the president’s term in regards to time or the terminology of “president” being applied to the chairperson.
Currently, the Board directors start and end their term at the same time as the executives so it would seem unusual for new amendments to specify that just the chair would have the same term timewise as the president.
It seems more likely that the chairperson position itself could be renamed to “president” to signify the Board’s importance from the student perspective, a goal that Executive Director Ercole Perrone and other officials have said they have committed to in the coming months.
These items will be flushed out in more detail at the Special Meeting of the Member and potentially press briefings that The Post will no longer have access to due to being cut off by IGNITE on Oct. 15 from press briefings, elected student representatives and all other media requests.
President Monica Khosla explained the main reason for this was because The Post inaccurately reported that the executive director, Perrone, said that IGNITE eventually wants to cut Board of Directors meetings off entirely from students that are members.
The Avro Post stands by the reporting as accurate. However, there is no plan in place at this time in the set of bylaw amendments headed to the special meeting in January to enact such a change.
Various points on the incoming bylaws:
- Ending executive elections: Not unprecedented but definitely not common for student unions in Ontario. IGNITE says it means “higher quality” executives.
- Unilateral Board decisions: Also not unprecedented and appears to be utilized by other student unions. However, an ex-president of another student union said that changing bylaws are typically a move ratified by an AGM.
- To note: Amendments will still be ratified by a meeting of the members — which are all students — with this proposal.
All these changes will be passed or not passed at a Special Meeting of the Members expected for mid- to late-January. If they are passed, they will come into effect, likely immediately.
If not, it is unclear if there will be need to be urgent Board action to come up with new proposals for the Annual General Meeting usually held near the end of the winter semester.