IGNITE confirmed to another publication that the eventual plan is to close off Board of Directors meetings to students unless they are invited as guests, a development that The Avro Post reported on in October and was considered inaccurate reporting by the student union’s officials.
The Humber Et Cetera reported this week that Executive Director Ercole Perrone said “the intent is to move towards a more formalized non-profit organization style way to work”, meaning that meetings will be closed off from the general student body unless they gain access via permission from directors.
The Avro Post reported in October following a press briefing with IGNITE officials that Perrone said the plan for the student union was to move towards a more corporate future, saying that only directors have the right to attend the Board meetings, citing the Ontario Corporations Act.
Just days later on Oct. 15, IGNITE President Monica Khosla said the reporting on the Board being cut off was incorrect. However, the Et Cetera reported this week that only directors and “guests the [B]oard wants to hear from” will be allowed inside the meetings, confirming that, in general, meetings will no longer be open to any member.
It appears this change will be offered as a bylaw amendment at the January Special Meeting of the Members, however, it was not highlighted in the meeting minutes of September’s gathering when Board directors passed the proposals. A final approval from members, or students, will be needed on Jan. 16 to pass or deny all the amendments in a package.
The current bylaws state that IGNITE must post the times and locations of the Board meetings and that a student can attend as long as directors do not vote in a majority to ask the student to leave. IGNITE removed the times and dates of the meetings earlier this year after denying a student journalist entry to the September Board meeting, breaking their own bylaws.
The Board of Directors is a 10-member decision-making body elected by those enrolled at Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber. It is responsible for upwards of $8 million paid in student fees.
Among the changes to IGNITE’s governance is the end of executive elections. Officials say this move is meant to make the Board of Directors the face of IGNITE while the hired president and vice presidents will focus on leading operations as executive staff members.
Though it is rare, a few other student unions in Ontario also hire their executives. Khosla and Guelph-Humber Vice President Megan Roopnarine are on the record as being for the structural changes.
A third significant amendment that will be up for approval in January is a proposal to give the Board of Directors to pass amendments that will come into effect immediately. It can later be overturned at a large member meeting but it allows directors to have more unilateral power.
It is unclear if all the directors voted in favour of these changes or if it was a smaller-than-unanimous majority to pass the bylaw amendments.
There were some other items passed by the Board 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 the “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 briefings, interviews with elected student representatives and all other media requests.
There could be other items up for change come January but only the “highlights” of the amendments were noted in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes.