It was over in 30 minutes.
The Special Meeting of the Members on Wednesday saw the end of executive elections, the secretive Board of Directors gain more power and a reclassification of the students IGNITE represents into three different streams.
It all happened very quickly once the question period was over. In fact, reporters were almost cut off from some final queries when Vice President Ryan Stafford attempted to move ahead with the motion to adopt the amendments before the journalist was done.
Jack Fisher, a contributing columnist who was last year the president of the University of Guelph’s student union, called the meeting “rushed”, and explained to The Avro Post that it would have, from IGNITE’s perspective, seemed efficient without any major bumps along the way.
But what does this mean for you, the students? Likely the item with the biggest impact on your day-to-day student life will be the new classes of members.
Two of the classes are not new: there will be “part-time members” which are part-time students paying a small amount in fees to the student union. “Full-time members” are those enrolled in full-time studies at Humber College or the University of Guelph-Humber who choose not to opt-in to any of the optional IGNITE fees.
A third, new classification is “Full-Time Enhanced Members”, students who opt-in to at least one of the six optional fees.
As we’ve seen from the last semester, those that opt-in will receive some exclusives, but on Wednesday that was cemented in the new bylaw amendments.
“Members that pay particular fees are entitled to various rights and privileges of IGNITE,” the document only released to the public on Wednesday stated. It adds: “Explanation of their rights and privileges are outlined in the IGNITE Membership Benefits Policy.”
That’s the first public mention of the so-called Membership Benefits Policy, which officials said on Wednesday would be released after it was passed by the Board of Directors, without giving a specific time frame.
The public meeting came to a close with six new bylaws in place, a number different than the seven recorded in the September meeting minutes when they were first passed but still containing the same content.
Beyond the re-classification of members, the biggest change students may notice is the end of executive elections. This means the president and three vice presidents who each represent North, Lakeshore and Guelph-Humber respectively will no longer exist.
In their place will be three student engagement coordinators that will be hired via a panel made up of different stakeholders.
The changes will hand the Board of the Directors the ability to pass bylaw amendments that are applicable immediately without needing member approval until the next public members meeting.
If the larger student body votes down an amendment previously passed by the Board, directors said in response to reporters that there would be a retroactive rollback of the changes and its impacts.
The summary released at the Special Meeting on Wednesday also clarified the change in regards to the execution of documents. Because there will no longer be a “president” position starting in April, documents that need the signature of an IGNITE executive will be passed to the executive director — the top staffer of the student union — or by a designate chosen by the elected directors.
Wednesday also saw the end of the term “Constitution” that was used to describe the student union’s document of bylaws. Now they will simply be titled as the ‘By-laws.”
The amendments also included more details on the clarification between the mandatory and optional fees. Over a year ago, the provincial government introduced the Student Choice Initiative, mandating that certain fees paid by students were to become optional as of the 2019 fall semester. IGNITE has now classified these fees formally as “Mandatory IGNITE Fees” and “Optional IGNITE Fees”.
Also included in the changes was the change to the format of Member Meetings. Instead of presenting items to be approved ahead of a meeting such as the one on Wednesday, IGNITE will present, approve and ratify proposals all within the same day.
It was an update made on the “recommendation and request of IGNITE’S lawyer” that Wednesday’s agenda claims keeps with “industry standards” and “best legal practices for compliance with the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act 2010.”
A lot of this will not have some major impact on your student life but some of the amendments will make it harder for you to know what is going on, coupled with a Board policy passed in November cutting the student body at-large from its meetings.