IGNITE announces Shay Hamilton as North VP

IGNITE, the student union representing those enrolled at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, announced Shay Hamilton on Wednesday as the new vice president for North Campus.

In posts shortly before noon, IGNITE shared a photo of the executive team in front of a sign for “The Backyard” on campus. It ends speculation over who the new executive was.

Earlier this summer, it was revealed that Simran, who was elected in the spring 2019 elections for the coming academic year, had quit due to personal reasons.

IGNITE’s Board of Directors, made up elected students, decided to unanimously approve a process to hire a new vice president ahead of September.

Executive Director Ercolé Perrone told The Avro Post earlier in July that when Simran stepped down, the Board had several options to replace her or choose to leave the position infilled.

The Board could have held a by-election or panel interviews starting in September, a process that would have required election resources and candidate approval from the Board of Governors. The candidate would not have likely been in place until mid-October with this process.

With significant changes such as the Student Choice Initiative and financial cuts by the province impacting campus this fall, a decision was made to get an executive in place with haste, Perrone told The Post.

Hamilton joins President Monica Khosla, Guelph-Humber Vice President Megan Roopnarine and Lakeshore counterpart Ryan Stafford.

The Post has reached out to Hamilton for comment.

Poor turnout could mean high opt-out: Student activist

Staff | Report

Low voter turnout in the 2019 IGNITE elections show apathy around the student union that could result in many students choosing not to fund it to save when optional student fees come into play this fall, student activist Hannah Derue said on Friday night.

Derue, who co-founded the Pre-Medical Society at the University of Guelph-Humber and has been involved in campus politics in the past, weighed in on the election results, citing students’ inability to get to the polls.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Derue wrote on Twitter, saying “voter apathy got us the Student Choice Initiative, and now it’s given us an electorate voted in with only 24.5 per cent of the student population voting.”

“If IGNITE can’t get students active as their most fundamental services are put on the province’s chopping block, IGNITE better prepare to have students opting out in droves.”

The government under Premier Doug Ford in January announced the Student Choice Initiative which will allow students to opt-out of funding certain aspects of campus with their fees that accompany tuition.

National student organizations, student union governments and campus publications across the province have condemned the move, saying it threatens the existence of unions and the services they offer.

Monica Khosla was re-elected to the IGNITE presidency on Friday evening, beating challenger and Board of Directors member Margarita Bader by 330 ballots.

Link:IGNITE to Fight to Survive

She has been criticized for what some call weak transparency efforts but also praised for solid efforts towards a more accessible campus. Khosla largely vowed to improve on her last term without adding many new ideas.


Candidates respond

The Avro Post has reached out to several vice presidents-elect and directors-elect for comment on the low voter turnout and a few of the former candidates and newly elected soon-to-be representatives responded.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Vice President-elect Megan Roopnarine said in response to questioning regarding voter apathy concerns leading to students opting-out.

“I know many students are involved with IGNITE if not through the election season then through fun events or services like insurance,” she told The Avro Post.

Newly elected Board Director Camila Ruiz Tacha said that her opinion is “that students are free to voice their opinions on things”, explaining that if opting out of the student union is an option they desire, then that is a choice they want to make.”

“I am a board of director and I will not force anyone to make a decision they are not comfortable with,” Tacha added, noting that despite the voter turnout decrease, “there are individuals who are truly into their school politics.”

These students are more likely to engage and speak up about issues on campus as well as keep IGNITE funded, the director-elect explained, believing that they will “speak up about government grants and what change IGNITE will make with having a new team.”

On the low turnout, Dilshan Marasinghe told The Avro Post that he hopes there will be larger turnout next year and “student will see that the main reasons these elections take place is to help brighten their unique experience in campus and make it as comfortable as possible”.

Ameem Rahman, who ran for the Humber College North Campus vice presidency, said that, in his opinion, he believes that voter apathy in the election will translate to students opting out of funding IGNITE.


Image of elections conference from The Avro Post.

Monica Khosla is re-elected, others win IGNITE positions

Eli Ridder, Melissa Lopez | Report

Monica Khosla was re-elected to the presidency of IGNITE on Friday night with 52 per cent of those that voted on the president ballot, winning again with a majority.

Though President Khosla gained more than last year percentage-wise, she had just 300 votes short of the ballots she got last year, beating challenger Margarita Bader by 330 ballots in favour.

Megan Roopnarine won the University of Guelph-Humber vice presidency and candidates Erika Caldwell and Julia Ciampa elected to the two Board of Directors seats the university has in the student government.

Vice president-elect Roopnarine told The Avro Post after the results were announced that she will be pushing for more Guelph-Humber representation and working on the overcrowding issue.

“Being a Guelph-Humber student I know what it’s like to feel disconnected from Humber and I know that our population as a student body is growing for sure so I want to make sure we’re tackling those things,” said Roopnarine.

For North Campus, Simran won the vice presidency and Dishant Passi, Eden Tavares, Neto Naniwambote and Shawayne Dunstan were acclaimed to four seats on the Board.

Ryan Stafford is the vice president-designate for the Lakeshore Campus and Asiya Awan, Camilia Ruiz Tacha and Stephanie Fallico were acclaimed for the Board as the only candidates for three seats.

Navnit Sidhu — the first ever candidate running for an IGNITE position from Orangeville Campus, has been acclaimed to the Board of Directors, expanding its original size from nine to 10. There has reportedly been representatives in the past from Orangeville to the former Humber Student Federation.

There was a total of 7,811 votes out of 31,929 who were able to fill out a ballot, marking a decrease of 3.81 per cent in comparison to the last election — representing 24.49 per cent of the student population.


‘Continue transparency’

Khosla told The Avro Post in an interview after the results were announced one Friday that she worked hard on her campaign and that she will “continue to be transparent in her second term.”

“Whether it’s bad news or good news I really am honest with students and I think that’s something they appreciate because we’ve seen what’s been happening in other schools with the lying happening with other presidents,” said Khosla referring to the Ryerson student union budget scandal.

“I’m not like that, if there is bad news I’ll let you know if there’s good news, you’ll definitely know that as well but I don’t shy away from anything because there is nothing to shy away from.

“I’m open to having any type of conversation at anytime,” she added. Khosla has ignored requests for comment and interview from The Avro Post since coming into office.

Khosla largely vowed to continue her accessibility work and advocating on behalf of students on a range of issues during the campaigning period, even indicating several times that she would not change much about IGNITE.


‘Courage’

On her loss, Margarita Bader said she “put in my best effort and tried to communicate the changes that I hoped to bring to Humber. Things don’t always go the way we plan them to, and this is definitely a huge learning experience for me.”

“This will in no way keep me from pursuing other opportunities,” she continued, saying that “all the candidates did an amazing job regardless if they got elected today and each indvidual will go on to do great things because it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that.”

Bader gained 48 per cent of the ballots that did not abstain in the vote for president, garnering the support of 3,465 students across Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber.

Many candidates across several campuses, including Erika Caldwell and Ameem Rahman, among others, gave their support to Bader during the heated campaign.


By the numbers

President

3,795 – Monica Khosla

3,465 – Margarita Bader

551 – Abstain

Vice President, North

1, 778 – Simran

908 – Ekmjyot Sohal

658 – Jason Hyatt

415 – Ameem Rahman

363 – Abstain

305 – Dilshan Tharusha Marasinghe

Vice President, GH

426 – Megan Roopnarine

267 – Saffiya Lulat

245 – Carmen Duong

Vice President, Lakeshore

1, 381 – Ryan Stafford

836 – Ostap Pavliuk

179 – Abstain

Board, North (Acclaimed)

1,288 – Dishant Passi

1, 217 – Shawayne Dunstan

1,093 – Eden Tavares

442 – Neto NaniwamboteA

Board, GH

368 – Erika Caldwell

201 – Julia Ciampa

172 – Afifa Abbaszadeh

136 – Drake Foo

55 – Jim Hung

42 – Abstain

Board, Lakeshore

1, 088 – Camila Ruiz Tacha

605 – Stephanie Fallico

488 – Asiya Bashir Awan

215 – Abstain


More details to follow. All images from The Avro Post.

Election results start at 5 p.m.

Staff | Report

Friday has arrived and with it the last day of voting and a press conference for the IGNITE elections results in the evening — when the new executives and Board of Directors are formally announced.

Students will be able to vote online and in-person at polling booths across Humber College campuses and at the University of Guelph-Humber until 4 p.m., ahead of the 5 p.m. results conference.

The results will be announced at Lakeshore Campus, the same location as last year, where the final votes will be tallied for what has been marked as a critical election year ahead of optional student fees.

The Student Choice Initiative was introduced by the Ontario government and comes into effect for the fall semester, allowing students to chose what fees they pay on top of tuition.

The optional fees have received major backlash from national student organizations, student union governments and campus publications across the province, who say it threatens their existence.

IGNITE, a student union who has in the past been criticized for transparency around the handling of finances, will now be fighting to maintain the some $75 levy added on to tuition for their funding — an approximately $10 million budget annually.

While health and dental insurance, which typically take up over $6 million of the IGNITE operating budget, will be immune to student choice, other income for clubs and other campus services could be cut if students choose not to fund them.

Election results will be covered by The Avro Post live from Instagram, Twitter and with online updates.

Candidates will gather in a room to hear the results and then there will be a news conference in K Building to announce the winners.


Image of IGNITE from files.

Monica Khosla’s new platform items, closed off social media

Eli Ridder | Report

Up until campaign posters were spotted on campus, what the public knew about Monica Khosla’s re-election platform for the IGNITE presidency mostly came from a forum where she largely promised to continue her efforts and improve what exists.

Link: Elections 2019

Khosla wants to introduce reusable straws and a reusable container program, while continuing efforts to build “awareness on accessibility”, “inclusive environments” and “have precise [and] prompt communication between IGNITE and students”.

The accessibility awareness item and continued communications were already gleaned from the president forum two weeks ago — but the reusable programs and “inclusive environments” have not been noted previously, according to public records.

Link: President Forum

It is not clear, however, if these are campaign promises as Khosla has consistently stated that she does not run on campaign promises because she does not know if she can keep them. The president has ignored inquires the entire election season.

Khosla’s social media networks listed on the campaign poster are inaccessible by The Avro Post. The Facebook and Twitter accounts found at “@MonicaKhosla” appear to not be her and the Instagram account is locked and she has not accepted a follow request.


Image of Monica Khosla and poster from IGNITE and The Avro Post.

The Avro Post not among RSVP to elections results conference

Eli Ridder | Report

Despite being able to access the IGNITE election results news conference last year, the student union has blocked student press access to the 2019 event unless they confirm an invitation sent earlier this week, The Avro Post learned on Thursday.

An email went out from IGNITE on Monday to addresses associated with on-campus media, including Humber Et Cetera and Humber News, that recipients are instructed to confirm to if they require access to the results event.

The Avro Post did not receive an email from IGNITE, and thus will not be able to have access to the election results news conference, according to the rules set forward in the RSVP email.

img_7978
A screenshot of the IGNITE email.

“You will be one of the first to break the new on who will be leading and representing the student body throughout the next academic year,” Communications Coordinator Peter Seney wrote in the email.

“In order to confirm your attendance at the press conference, you must respond to this invite.”


More details to follow. Image from The Avro Post.

Eden Tavares has the ‘best interests’ of students in mind

Eli Ridder | Report

Eden Tavares, running for the Board of Directors at Humber College North Campus, told The Avro Post she has the “best interests” of students in mind and explained her plan for tackling optional student fees on Monday.

“Students should vote for me because I have their best interests in mind like out-of-pocket expenses and events,” Tavares explained.

“I want the students’ voice to be heard. I want for everyone to work together as a Humber community to make positive changes for the betterment of our school experience and the betterment of ourselves,”

The Fitness and Health Promotion Program student noted it was her “first experience with the IGNITE elections”, adding that she thinks the “process is very well thought out”.

“I would not change anything about it except the financial budget for Board of Director candidates.”

On the Student Choice Initiative, which will allow students to opt out of certain parts of the IGNITE fee starting this fall, Tavares plans to ensure students are aware of what services the student union provides.

When asked if she would work to release a line-by-line budget, Tavares said that it could be a “good idea in theory” but she worries it could give students “an unrealistic idea of where the money is being spent.”

IGNITE has an operating budget of around $10 million a year, and produces an infographic with six general categories and multiple sub-categories that has been criticized in the past for its lack of detail.

“The students might see a large sum and not want to put their money towards it but in reality it’s split throughout the whole student body.”

Tavares, who lives in Mississauga, also gave her appreciation for The Avro Post, saying, that if elected, she “would do my best to involve the independent student press.”


Image of Eden Tavares provided.

Guelph-Humber Board candidates who did not go in-depth

Eli Ridder | Report

There are five students vying for two seats on the Board of Directors — only one of them gave an interview to The Avro Post going in-depth with her plan for governance, Erika Caldwell.

The other four — Afifa Abbaszadeh, Drake Foo, Jim Hung and Julia Ciampa — have left the student body largely relying on their social media and blurbs on the IGNITE website for information on their campaigns.


Abbaszadeh

Abbaszadeh, who was the only candidate to refuse an interview, has a four part platform where she promises fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency and advocation for change.

The Justice Studies student vows to “only approve funding for IGNITE if it will benefit students, ensure the student union and its elected officials are “held accountable for their choices” and carry out their platforms.

The candidate also said she would “maintain transparency between IGNITE and the student body regarding the funds spent and platform promises” and “advocate for change that will benefit” current and future students.


Foo

Drake Foo is all about the social relations on campus, he told The Avro Post during the elections Mix and Mingle event earlier this month.

“I’d like to create more opportunities for us to meet and interact with people from outside our own programs,” he says in his IGNITE candidate blurb, adding: “I’d push for social events and clubs that are diverse to all programs.”

Foo also wants to advocate for greater study space at the university by optimizing classroom use, saying that “school space is valuable, and we should make the most of every room.”

The last platform item he brings forward is his plan, if elected, to push for hot water at the GH Café “for everyone” so that students can bring their own hot drinks with reusable cups to save money and cut down on waste.


Hung

Jim Hung’s description on the IGNITE candidates page is short, where he says he wants to “continue to provide the best service possible with changes to legislation and possible budget cuts to IGNITE.”

However, his plan as described at the Mix and Mingle event goes further with a take different in comparison to a majority of other candidates — dismissing questions about optional student fees to focus on “academic excellence”.

Hung proposed two ideas he said he would be fighting for if elected: Putting in place a system for complaints against professors and having the end-of-semester course reviews made public for transparency’s sake.


Ciampa

Julia Ciampa has not responded to any request for comment or an interview and was not present at the Mix and Mingle election event, however, her platform is well-detailed on her campaign social media.

Ciampa calls for expanding the budget for financial bursaries “in order to allow additional students to receive support”, advocate against the recent changes to student grants by the Ontario government and work with the executives and University of Guelph-Humber senators to “ensure exception education”.

Under the heading “remote student engagement”, Ciampa says, if she is elected, she wants to “continue to create events in order to foster school spirit and pride” and hold an end-of-the-year event.

In a platform item unique to Guelph-Humber, Ciampa wants to create an online counselling service that is confidential. Currently, students are referred to the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre for mental health care.

Ciampa also aims to “bring forth initiatives such as ‘The Friendship Bench’ and Canadian Mental Heath Week”.


Image of candidates from IGNITE.

Time to vote: IGNITE elections 2019

Staff | Report

Voting for the IGNITE elections is taking place throughout the day and the rest of the week, both in-person on campus and via online ballots.

Link: Elections 2019

There are 23 candidates for about half that amount of positions. A majority of positions will end up being filled by women, and some races are acclaimed.


Election Facts

The Avro Post has launched the Election Facts series, where relevant snippets of information on the IGNITE elections are published.


Image of ballot from files.

Voting for IGNITE starts Monday

Eli Ridder | Report

Voting for the fourth generation of IGNITE executives and Board of Directors start on Monday morning, via in-person booths on campus or by digital ballots, with 23 candidates vying for over a dozen positions.

Link: Elections 2019

Elections this year across the province are largely considered the most critical student elections in recent history due to cuts to student loans but especially over the introduction of optional student fees.

This fall, students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, as well as across the province, will be given the choice to opt out of paying a fee to their student unions, campus publications and more.

National student organizations and provincial Opposition politicians have called the policy changes by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party government a threat to student life.

It is unclear whether these factors of online voting or government policies will impact the turnout this year. Most candidates were at a Mix and Mingle event earlier this month that showcased platforms and allowed students to talk to them.


Image of ballot from files.

Guelph-Humber VP candidate who did not go in depth

Eli Ridder | Report

There are three University of Guelph-Humber candidates vying for the IGNITE vice presidency to represent the university but only two gave an interview to The Avro Post — the other candidate is Carmen Duong.

Thus, the only details the students at-large know about Duong is the brief descriptions of her plans on the IGNITE website and any information gleaned from the candidates at the Mix and Mingle election event over a week ago.

On her candidate page, Duong says she wants to advocate for three initiatives: Make student lives on campus “more comfortable [and] enjoyable”, help develop skills students don’t learn in the classroom and improve students’ academic experience.

These platform items are identical to at least seven others across the candidates at Guelph-Humber, Humber College North Campus and Lakeshore.

Duong has not responded to multiple requests for an interview or comment. Competitors Saffiya Lulat and Megan Roopnarine went in-depth in interviews earlier.


More details to follow.

Ameem Rahman wants to improve the campus experience

Eli Ridder | Report

Ameem Rahman, running for IGNITE vice president representing Humber College North Campus, told The Avro Post in an interview on Friday that he wants to improve the student experience on campus with a series of platform items drawn from a variety of candidates past and present.

The 24-year-old’s first priority would be to work on ending the stigma surrounding mental health — the same primary priority for Ekmjyot Sohal, another North candidate.

Rahman’s platform also listed having more halal, gluten-free, vegetarian options on campus and have coffee available during exams. He said he aims to reduce food prices overall — though he said he didn’t know how he will go about doing that yet.

As for student transportation, Rahman wants to have parking be free after 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. due to night classes.

The second year told The Avro Post he wants to bring a Metrolinx Presto machine to campus — typically these are ticket stands that allow students to recharge their Presto transit cards and by passes for GO Transit.

Rahman did note that students have wanted to bring one on campus for some time, and that other candidates have tried and failed to have one set up thus far. He called not having one on campus “unreasonable”.

The candidate wants to bring back Linx Lounge as an establishment serving alcohol. He noted that the current vice president was unable to follow through on the same goal, saying that it was difficult because the executive had “lots of things to change on campus”.

Re-opening LinX as a bar was a key platform item for Jeremy Largo-Afonso, but he was unable to follow through because IGNITE had already determined it would be transformed into Linx Café and the soup bar, details unknown until revealed by a report from Humber Et Cetera.

Rahman did not explain how he would go about re-establishing the LinX Lounge, but said he would try to “figure out something to resolve the issue”.

The candidate listed a price reduction for course materials and buying new keyboards as objectives on his platform — key points for president candidate Margarita Bader.

The Mississauga-native rounded out his platform by telling The Avro Post he would, as vice president, look to provide more events for students.

I would like to make the life on campus a safe, comfortable and fun environment for our beloved students,” Rahman added.

When it comes to the Ontario government’s cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program and the introduction of optional student fees, Rahman said he would like to work with other executives and Humber College to release a line-by-line budget.


More details to follow. Image of Ameem Rahman supplied.

Senator-designates: Who are they?

Eli Ridder | Analysis

All new senator-designates will be taking over the four seats the University of Guelph-Humber has on the main Guelph Campus Senate — but what were their platforms and what will they be advocating for?

This isn’t entirely easy, as only one senator-designate went in-depth with an interview with The Avro Post, but the other three also have histories and some platform items we know about.

“I tell it how it is” candidate Jessica Lecques vows to bring an unprecedented amount of transparency to the usually quiet role of the Guelph-Humber senator, telling The Avro Post that she will carry out follow-up’s with the student body after meetings.

The second year said she will be a senator who “maintains effective communication and transparency”, a leader for the community who ensures the student voice is heard, a senator who advocates and compromises “when necessary” and a senator “who is respectful, open-minded” — fighting for students views even if they don’t agree with her own.

She had over 10 distinct platform points. Some may not be applicable to her role as a senator, as the Senate deals with strictly academic issues, but all of which she aims to find solutions for or work with others to get it done.

Danya Elsayed is another elected senator-designate. She did not have as many known platform items as Lecques but she did have one that was unique to her campaign: Tackling overcrowding at the University of Guelph-Humber.

It’s appropriate that it was a major part of her run as Elsayed was the one to initially break down the issue in an article she wrote for her News Gathering course in her Media Studies program.

From what is understood of her leadership at Guelph-Humber in the past, Elsayed is set to be a senator who will communicate with students and explain the policies she is engaged in while on Senate — aspects that appear on her campaign posters as well.

Elsayed currently serves as the vice president of events for the Guelph-Humber Advertising and Marketing Association. She is a third year in Media Studies with a specialization in Public Relations and Journalism.

Nora Elgharbawy is the candidate that we know least about, though she declared second.

She has not responded to requests for comment as a candidate or senator-designate but her nomination statement said she wants to reduce parking expenses, food costs on campus, stricter grade submission deadlines for professors and “better accommodations” around Guelph-Humber.

It is unclear whether the Senate would have any control over reducing parking expenses or dropping food costs on campus — even IGNITE executives admitted that they could not change anything around food.

“By allowing me to become your student senator, I will ensure that every single student will have a chance to disctate their own journey at the University of Guelph-Humber,” Elgharbawy added.

Nazim is the senator-designate with the most experience in student politics — she is currently the IGNITE vice president representing Guelph-Humber, a tenure that has not come without controversy but one that helped her win a new seat.

The senator-designate has ignored requests for comment and interview from The Avro Post since August 2018, but her Senate nomination statement cited experience on academic committees that exist on campus.

Nazim wants to push up class start times from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. to “accommodate the commuter school” and continue her work to get summer placements for all programs — a goal she is one program away from achieving.


Image from Pexels files.

‘Changing things for the better’: Ostap Pavliuk

Eli Ridder | Report

Business Administration student Ostap Pavliuk is running for the vice presidency of Humber College Lakeshore Campus, and told The Avro Post in an interview on Wednesday he wants to “change things for the better”.

Last year, Pavliuk ran for the Board of Directors, and said his experience running and as a student taught him a lot about what “students think should be changed” — which he says is a “perfect combination” to bring change.

“I am sure that IGNITE is doing a great job, but there is always room for improvement,” the second year said to a question about the history of the student union.

His platform includes “gathering feedback from students about their ideas”, “enhancing wellness and health of students” via IGNITE clubs and groups, “creating a system that will gather a feedback about teacher and class material” and improving mental health — though he did not detail how.

Though Pavliuk did not know the Ontario Student Assistance Program grant cuts carried out by the provincial government were confirmed as coming into effect this fall, once he was informed by The Avro Post he clarified that he was “against” the move.

“And, as of now, I didn’t familiarize myself with how the IGNITE budget works and the whole situation with the funds cut, to answer this question I need some time to explore,” he added.


Full interview

In one sentence, why should students vote for you?

Changing things for better – that’s the ultimate goal for everyone, and I am going to follow it.

In whatever length you wish, why should students vote for you? What makes you stand out?

First of all, the fact that I am studying at Humber College for 2 years and aware of all the problems and issues lakeshore campus has. Also, last year I was also running for the board of directors position, and during that campaign I have got to know a lot of what students think should be changed. With my passion to bring a difference to this world, I am sure it is a perfect combination.

Do think that IGNITE is effective despite scandals that have existed in the past?

I am sure that ignite is doing a great job, but there is always a room for improvement, we have to remember that.

What will you do for transparency with IGNITE?

Don’t quite understand the meaning of this question. Sorry.

What kind of Vice President will you be?

The one who will work to change things for better. Listening to students, their ideas, then shaping them and enhancing the life on campus. 

In simple points, what is your platform?

  • Gathering feedback from students about their ideas.
  • Enhancing wellness and health of students, throughout Ignite clubs and groups.
  • Education, creating a system that will gather a feedback about teachers and class material, and then enhancing this points to improve the quality of our time spent studying.
  • Mental Health 

IGNITE’s student union has completely ignored The Avro Post since August 2018, except to tell us we are ‘not sanctioned’. Will you agree to talk to the student press as a vice president?

I have to familiarize myself with the “student press” and vice president position first. There is no problems with talking to the student press, I just don’t want to promise things I migjht not accomplish, that’s why there is no straight “YES”.

What will your approach be to the OSAP cuts and especially the optional student fees? Will you release a line-by-line budget if elected?

As far as I know it is not a 100% situation when the OSAP is going to be cut. And as of now, I didn’t familiarize myself with how the ignite budget works and the whole situation with the funds cut, to answer this question I need some time to explore.


Image of Ostap Pavliuk.

University of Guelph-Humber senators elected

Eli Ridder | Report

Danya Elsayed, Jessica Lecques, Nora Elgharbawy and current IGNITE Vice President Maheen Nazim have been elected as the four senators to represent the University of Guelph-Humber on the main Guelph campus Senate.

Elsayed, a third year in journalism and public relations, campaigned on being an “ally to al students”, bringing transparency to the role including with school policies, an active leaders on campus and a voice for an overcrowding issue she reported on previously.”

I am extremely humbled to have been elected as a University of Guelph-Humber senator. Thank you to everyone who ran and voted in this election,” Elsayed said, adding that she is “excited to represent my peers” and work with other senators who feel the same.

Lecques was the only winning candidate who gave an in-depth interview with The Avro Post, and she cited a “comprehensive plan of action” to tackle the concerns of transparency, communication and the “quality of student experience”.

The quiet Elgharbawy — who did not detail a platform that The Avro Post had access to — only said “I want to represent you as your next student senator” on her campaign poster. The Avro Post has reached out for more details. 

Vice President Nazim, who went into this election as an IGNITE executive representing Guelph-Humber, who said on her social media that “a vote for me is a vote to get sh*t done” after her summer placement initiative was approved.

Incumbent Genevieve Samlal and newcomers Justin Mihaly and Hooria Katal did not win. The Avro Post found in an analysis that those that did win were the favourites with the exception of Samlal, who was favoured over Elgharbawy as a winner.

Results showing the number of ballots for each senator are expected to be posted on the University of Guelph Secretariat site. The four senator-designates come into their role next school year.


Images from the senators.

Ekmjyot Sohal wants to involve students, save IGNITE

Eli Ridder | Report

Ekmjyot Sohal, running for the vice presidency of IGNITE to represent Humber College North Campus, wants to involve students more on campus and promote the services of the student union to ensure students fund it, he told The Avro Post in an interview on Monday evening.

Link: Elections 2019

Sohal, who runs the popular Humber Daily Snapchat account that promotes parties and events, said that he is “a pretty popular guy” who people know around residence and campus and wants to create a “fun experience for everyone”.

As vice president, the third year Business Administration student said he would aim to have more events on campus and get “more students involved with one another”, adding that he would look to improve IGNITE’s connectivity through social media.

He agreed that IGNITE is effective for student life, but said “I think students dont know how much they actually do for people until it’s too late and IGNITE is gone”, adding that if awareness was built around the services offer, then students would be more inclined to fund it through optional student fees coming into play this fall.

The uncertainty surrounding the status of the Student Choice Initiative announced by the Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford last month forced the IGNITE Board of Directors for the first time essentially push back their approval for the next fiscal year budget.


The platform

Brantford-native Sohal, who currently lives on residence, wants to be a vice president that is “involved with students” in any way he can and look for solutions to the problems the campus is having as a whole.

Sohal wants to end the stigma around asking for help over mental health and the perceived “sign of weakness” that come with it. He clarified it would be his first priority if elected.

He also wants to have “more halal, kosher, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian meals” — and complementary coffee during exams. Sohal went on to add bringing a bar back to campus, an effort that the current vice president campaigned on but could not carry out due to prior plans for the LinX Lounge.

The third year wants Humber College to be more involved with student housing to “make sure the students are living in safe environments”, a platform item shared by a few other candidates.

New keyboards for the computer labs and “better and more IGNITE events” round out his platform. Sohal said he open to more suggestions from students to add to his platform.

Like the majority of other candidates, Sohal said he would continue to give comments and interviews to on-campus student press such as The Avro Post.

When it comes to IGNITE finances, Sohal wants to prioritize students with spending, and said he would release a line-by-line budget pending approval from fellow executives and the college, saying that students “deserve” to know where their money is going.

Ekmjyot Sohal is up against four other candidates for the vice presidency of Humber North, including Ameem Rahman, Jason Hyatt and an individual just going by Simran.

Voting for the IGNITE elections takes place the week of Feb. 25, both in-person and, for the first time, online, with results announced at the end of the week.


Image of Ekmjyot Sohal supplied.

Dilshan Marasinghe seeks to find solutions on campus

Eli Ridder | Report

Dilshan Tharusha Marasinghe, running for the vice presidency of Humber College North Campus, told The Avro Post in an interview on Sunday that “for every problem, there is always a solution” and he aims to use his skills to find the ones that work.

“I’m willing to maximize my skills and talents to crack the right equations and ensure to eradicate all the problems you have with the right solution and be the shining ray of hope that you, the students, need me to be.”

Marasinghe, 18, wants students to vote for him, saying he believes that he can “truly make a change in their lives in a positive way” — saying that he has been “in your shoes” as a student, especially in regards in finances.

The first year said that, despite incidents that may have impacted students on campus, IGNITE is effective “because we need to remember that nobody is perfect, no matter how perfect they may seem to be in your eyes”.


Ford cuts

On the provincial government’s cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program set to come into play this fall, Marasinghe called it “truly a step backward in making students educational life easier.”

The Advanced Diploma of Electronic Engineering Technology major said he will “approach this matter seriously by working together with my team to create a various amount of solutions to ensure” students do not “fall into a pit if financial issues because of these changes”.

On the Student Choice Initiative introducing optional student fees in the fall, Marasinghe first noted that he believes it “will grant the students the opportunity to pay whatever they believe will benefit them in their education and save their money since money doesn’t grow on trees.”

However, the vice president candidate said he will “make sure to convince students to continue paying for IGNITE by ensuring that they full know the benefits of doing so” — and listed events and extracurricular activities.

The uncertainty surrounding the status of the optional student fees and how exactly they will affect the IGNITE student union had the Board of Directors for the first time essentially push back their approval for the next fiscal budget.

Marasingh is up against four other competitors for the vice presidency of Humber North, including Ameem Rahman, Ekmjyot Sohal, Jason Hyatt, and an individual going by just Simran.


Full interview

This is the full interview with Dilshan Tharusha Marasinghe.

In one sentence, why should students vote for you?

For every problem, there is always a solution which is what makes it a problem and I’m willing to maximize my skills and talents to crack the right equations and ensure to eradicate all the problems you have with the right solution and be the shining ray of hope that you, the students, need me to be.

In whatever length you wish, why should students vote for you? What makes you stand out?

You should vote for me because everyone wants someone they can look up to as their hero or role-model who they believe can truly make a change in their lives in a positive way and I firmly believe I can be that person to all of you in college and stand bold as a beacon of hope.

Furthermore, what makes me stand out is that I’ve been in your shoes, I know precisely how it feels like to go through the many problems students go through such as financial issues and so on which is why if you vote for me as Vice President, I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I will make it my mission to obliterate all the situations you’re facing in college and make sure you enter the front entrance with a lovely smile on your face everyday.

Besides, at the end of the day, we all want to live a good and splendid life and make every moment count since we only live once and I want to be the person to have the honor of making that life possible for you in college.

Do you think IGNITE is effective despite scandals that have existed in the past?

Yes, I believe IGNITE is effective despite scandals that have existed in the past because we need to remember that nobody is perfect, no matter how perfect they may seem to be in your eyes and all IGNITE has in mind is to make your journey in college as memorable and fun and productive as possible.

IGNITE has the potential to build taller ladders to enable you to climb higher and reach to the stars to achieve wonders and I believe you should continue to have faith in them for all the things they’re doing for you.

In order for me to create transparency with IGNITE, I will make sure to share all my thoughts and ideas with them so that we’ll build a strong working relationship between eachother which we both can benefit from in terms of improving Humber.

I will ensure no secrets will be kept between us as keeping secrets is one of the first steps of failing as a team and as a result, failing Humber.

What will you for transparency with IGNITE?

I’m aiming to be the kind of Vice President that everyone can simply call a friend and speak out their thoughts and feelings that are contained inside their minds whenever they’re feeling down or depressed because if I continue to make changes in college and students are continuing to not feel themselves for certain reasons, then there’s no point in making those changes. I have to ensure that the students, my voice, are feeling strong and up-right about themselves so that I can truly say to myself that everything I’m doing in college as Vice President is really making a positive change.

Are you a returning IGNITE executive?

I’m not a returning IGNITE executive.

In simple points, what is your platform?

Improve the financial life in college, bring in more extra-curricular activities in college, and enhance the academic life in college.

Is there anything else you would like to say? Why should students vote for you?

I would like to say that every great leader has to start from somewhere and I believe running for Vice President in Humber will be the perfect golden opportunity for me to unleash my potential to the maximum and show all of you what I’m truly capable of when it comes to actually making a difference that you all want to see and that you’ve made the right decision voting for me.

Will you talk to the student press?

I will most certainly talk to the student press as I believe it’s highly crucial to allow the press to know what we’re doing here so that the students will be able to know it as well.

I believe we have to be transparent with everyone about what we do so that we’ll establish positive relationships with everyone we work with and build a stronger foundation towards a brighter future.

What will be your approach to the OSAP cuts and especially the optional student fees? Will you release a line-by-line budget if elected?

It is very unfortunate to hear that the government will no longer be providing free tuition to families earning less than $50,000 per year and that the government will be taking away the 6 month grace period of students to pay back their student loans right after they graduate since it’s truly a step backward in making students educational life easier. I am truly against this and I will approach this matter seriously by working together with my team to create a various amount of solutions to ensure that you don’t fall into a pit of financial issues because of these changes. Coming to the optional student fees, from my perspective, I believe this will grant the students the opportunity to pay whatever they believe will benefit them in their education and save their money since money doesn’t grow on trees. Furthermore, I will make sure to convince students to continue paying for IGNITE by ensuring that they fully know the benefits of doing so such as receiving a wide collection of events organized by IGNITE for them to aid them in their educational journey and to learn fascinating new knowledge which they don’t learn in class.


Image of Dilshan Marasinghe from IGNITE.

Humber North Board candidates to be acclaimed

Eli Ridder | Report

The four candidates running for the Board of Directors at Humber College North Campus will be acclaimed on Mar. 1 when the results are announced — meaning they will be automatically elected.

These students — Dishant Passi, Eden Tavares, Neto Naniwambote and Shawayne Dunstan — will make up North’s representatives to the governing and accountability.

While The Avro Post is working to interview each of the 23 candidates running for IGNITE positions, the four candidates have not yet responded to interview requests, though responses are incoming.

On the IGNITE elections page, the four have brief descriptions of why they’re running.

Passi marked the “great success” students have with the student union, saying the elected government is “responsible, approachable and accessible to all students.”

Tavares wants “the student’s voice to be heard”, and wants the Humber College community to work together “to make positive changes for the betterment of our school experience and the betterment of ourselves.”

Naniwambote said that if he or she will “fight for affordable parking for students and make transportation accessible for students who take public transportation” — it is not clear if the candidate is looking for subsidize transit or work to bring a universal transit pass to the college.

The status of transit has seen improvements since 2015 when the bus hub was built on campus connecting students to Toronto, Mississauga, York Region and Brampton routes.

A light rail transit service by the Toronto Transit Commission with two stops underground on North Campus is also scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Humber College has considered a so-called “U-pass” in the past, but both the administration and the student union have refused to reveal further details on its status. The TTC has u-pass agreements with Ryerson and other post-secondary institutions in Toronto — which were established recently.

Dunstan is looking for IGNITE to “reach a certain pinnacle of success when barely any students are unaware of the capacity and the drive to ease the stress of studies.

The candidate says the further success of the student union to him is uplifting his peers by showing more of them the diversity in display at the college.

“Although IGNITE appeals to many demographics of students with amazing events such as frost, I still believe there is more room to grow in many aspects,” he wrote on his election page.

Dunstan also wants to better the services current provided by IGNITE while also implementing new ones, which may prove difficult as there are already contingency plans in the works over funding cuts that could come from optional student fees starting this fall.

The candidates were all at an election Mix and Mingle event put on by IGNITE last week where they talked about relieving the stress of students and also amplifying the voices of their peers, potentially through a new media outlet.

None of the candidates addressed the optional student fees initiative or cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program made by the Ontario government coming into play next school year.

All four candidates are expected to respond to requests from The Avro Post asking for more details on their platforms and their stances on critical student issues.


Image of candidates from IGNITE.

Di Raddo: There was a clear winner in the president forum

Katrina Di Raddo | Opinion


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.


In student elections, you are elected for a one-year term.

That means you have one year to impress me should you seek re-election. At the same time, I’m always looking to hear new ideas – ideas that are innovative yet realistic. With both of those things being said, Margarita Bader was the clear winner in the IGNITE presidential discussion.

I was already disappointed with Monica Khosla’s performance as president this past year. Her only big statement came under the pressure of Doug Ford’s OSAP changes.

Why weren’t these bold statements made more often throughout the year? That is the kind of strong leadership I expect from my student union.

And for a person that claimed to champion communication, locking out student press is unacceptable and a surefire way to avoid accountability. If you are afraid of answering the tough questions, you cannot lead in this day and age.

I was hoping to have Monica change my mind changed about her during the discussion. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

I felt Monica’s ideas were stale and vague. Many were just reiterated concepts from Margarita. I don’t want a leader who says “yes I agree, I’d do that too.”

I want a leader who says “that’s a great idea, but this is what I would do to make it even better.”

Her answers lacked depth, with prose like IGNITE is already doing “a lot of great things.” Things? What kind of things? Expand. You’re the president. Saying you’re doing “things” is a Trumpism. Going further on that, when asked about last year’s platform items, she could only remember two out of her three items. That’s a red flag if I’ve ever seen one. How do you not remember a platform item? Makes the voters think you didn’t really work very hard on it then.

Margarita, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air during the discussion. She came off as intelligent and confident. I enjoyed her fresh ideas and felt her experience on the Board of Directors gives her beneficial insight into the operation of the student union. I loved the idea of expanding spaces for students on campus by utilizing current facilities.

Where I work, we have the majority of our rooms in an online booking system, and they can be booked any time they are not in use. This seems like a practical way to fully utilize classrooms and other spaces on campus, which Margarita discussed. I also thought the idea of offering additional workshops on a variety of topics is excellent, including Photoshop and first aid.

In a heavily technological era, there are also many softwares that students lack knowledge of. In classes, I have learned the names and theories of many business softwares, but never a chance to actually use them in a computer lab. That is NO help for me when I am applying to jobs. Workshops could bridge this gap.

This is especially important because, as was discussed by both candidates, aligning graduate students with jobs is imperative. If you want companies of any field to come to campus and recruit, you have to give them a reason. I know many companies who will only recruit from schools such as Waterloo, Western, or Schulich because the students are “perceived” as better quality. That external perception needs to change if the student union and school in general want any traction on fulfilling this goal.

IGNITE, and the rest of Ontario’s student unions, are in for a ride in the upcoming years. Think long, close, and hard about who will be representing you. My endorsement for IGNITE president goes to Margarita Bader.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.

Image of IGNITE from previous files.

Last day to vote for Senate

Staff | Report

Friday is the last day that students can submit ballots for the top senators of choice for the four seats the University of Guelph-Humber has on the main Guelph Campus Senate.

Danya Elsayed, Jessica Lecques, Justin Mihaly, current IGNITE Vice President Maheen Nazim, Hooria Katal, Nora Elgharbawy and incumbent Genevieve Samlal make up the seven candidates.

While an analysis by The Avro Post determines who the possible frontrunners are in the Senate race, there is no way to know who will be announced a senator come Monday.

Last year, there were only three Senate candidates and thus they were all acclaimed and a heavily contested by-election was held in the fall of 2018.

Students this year can vote in the ranked ballot via a link sent to their GryphMail.

Two candidates responded to interview requests from The Avro Post and went in-depth with their ambitions and platforms including Justin Mihaly and Jessica Lecques. However, nomination statements were also released by candidates running for Senate.

Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday evening.


Image of ballot box from files.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑