Exclusive: Guelph-Humber will not be moving as strategic plan is developed

The University of Guelph told The Avro Post on Friday that there are no plans to physically relocate the University of Guelph-Humber “at this time” amid an ongoing process to develop a new strategic plan expected to be completed by the spring.

After a report revealed that last year that Guelph-Humber’s sole building at Humber College’s North Campus was over capacity and there were unverified rumours that the university would be moved, questions arose over its future.

Guelph-Humber was established in 2002 through a partnership between the University of Guelph and Humber College.

Officials pointed to a new webpage dedicated to bringing together all resources to do with the partnership between Guelph and Humber including an operational review undertaken during the fall of 2017.

There has not been a new strategic plan since the governing framework of Guelph-Humber was written in 1999 to establish the university and so a year-long process was launched last May to make a new plan, according to a press release from the presidents of Guelph and Humber.

Guelph-Humber graduates receive a bachelor’s degree from Guelph and a college diploma from Humber. Guelph-Humber students have access to many of the supports provided by Humber and are also members of the IGNITE student union.

Exclusive: Presto machines coming to Humber in early 2020

SPECIAL REPORT

After years of requests and a long running effort by multiple parties, reloadable Presto machines will be coming to Humber College’s North and Lakeshore Campuses “early in the New Year”, Metrolinx officials told The Avro Post over the weekend.

It is the first confirmation of a time period from Metrolinx, the crown corporation that runs both Presto and GO Transit.

Presto cards, which allow users to load funds online and with reload machines, are utilized by at least three local transit systems that stop at Humber’s North and Lakeshore campuses.

There has been some confusion over the timing of the machines coming to campus as Humber officials have given conflicting messages in recent weeks.

Humber Sustainability Specialist Devon Fernandes told the Et Cetera last week that the machines would reach campus by the end of November but told The Post days later that he could “not confirm that timeline” due to ongoing discussions.

Earlier this year, The Post reported that discussions had launched between Humber and Metrolinx over the machines.

There are upwards of 30,000 students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber and thousands of them utilize multiple forms of city and intercity transit — most of which, if not all of them, accept the smart Presto cards.

Bringing a Presto machine to campus was on IGNITE Vice President Megan Roopnarine’s election platform as she ran to represent students at the University of Guelph-Humber. When the machines are added to campuses, it could be seen as a win for her advocacy.

IGNITE candidates have for years added advocating for Presto machines on campus to their platforms, but none of the representative that ended up elected have been successful thus far in their efforts.

IGNITE discounted Frosh tickets due to underselling

IGNITE earlier this week released a 50 per cent off discount code for Frosh previously reserved for those that opted in and a staffer with the student union told The Avro Post on the condition of anonymity that the move was made because tickets were underselling.

The source was unable to reveal how many tickets had been sold so far, only that the discount was put in place because the mark was not hit. Frosh, a paint party taking place this Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, differs from previous years where musical talent was the feature.

The staffer, based at Lakeshore Campus, told The Post that the student union is also concerned about the upcoming Wild ‘N Out event taking place in October. When the MTV show visited Humber College last year, the event was full and potentially sold out.

The source also expressed concern for IGNITE’s monthly contest where the student union gives away $1,000 in a draw, questioning why the student union would give away thousands of dollars for nine months if they are operating on a potentially smaller budget.

For now, it is unclear why Frosh would be underselling. In recent years, Frosh has been busy and bustling, however, the change from musical talent to a paint party could have come into play for some students. IGNITE has also been using paid advertisements on social media to promote the event.

The Student Choice Initiative has created a split between students who remained opted in to certain IGNITE fees and those that have chosen to opt out. Events like Frosh show that there will be a new standard in a first-come, first-serve basis, giving exclusives to financial supporters.

The first indication of this came with the Frosh party kits. The first 100 students who bought tickets and had remained opted in to the Events and Opportunities Fee were eligible for the kits. It is expected that there will be more of these exclusives over the course of the academic year.

Sources told The Post on Saturday that club executives would have to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee to keep their positions. The move could set a precedent for future leadership opportunities such as IGNITE elections.

Many of the changes will likely become clear with the Special Meeting of the Members on Oct. 16 where a new constitution is expected to be ratified by students and questioned answered in a press conference-style event in the Humber College Student Centre at North Campus.

The Avro Post will reach out for comment from IGNITE.

Exclusive: SCI brings changes to IGNITE clubs

SPECIAL REPORT 

When IGNITE club presidents received a briefing by staff on Friday afternoon, they were told of several changes moving forward in how their groups would operate as part of the student union, sources told The Avro Post on Saturday.

Staff told the leaders of over two dozen clubs that students will not have to remain opted in to be able to join. However, club leadership, including presidents and vice presidents, will have to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee to keep their positions.

This could also set a precedent for the those running in the IGNITE elections. It will not be clear until changes to the Constitution are ratified at the Oct. 16 Special Meeting of the Members, a document that includes requirements for candidates.

Another significant change from the previous year are the new rules around refreshments. Clubs are now limited to having refreshments at a club meeting once per month and are encouraged to “spend wisely”, according to one source speaking on the condition she remain anonymous.

Kristy Lam, a club president and a reporter for The Avro Post, confirmed the details relayed by sources.

The Student Choice Initiative, or SCI, was introduced by the Progressive Conservative provincial government earlier this year as part of a package of changes to student life including a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition and slashes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, or OSAP.

Student unions, levy-funded campus publications and other post-secondary organizations consider the SCI a threat to their funding and existence. The province says the move gives the choice back to the students, among other reasons, as explained to The Post in an interview with an MPP.

The Canadian Federation of Students, partnered with the York Federation of Students, have engaged in what analysts consider a longshot lawsuit that argues the SCI should be rolled back. Before optional student fees, full-time students paid a mandatory fee to IGNITE that recently cost about $75.

IGNITE’s $11 million budget is split up among health and dental insurance for students, staffing, governance, events and more. It is unclear how much funding the student union will have to work with until numbers are released, should they choose to publicize them.

The changes to club policy and warnings about using funds wisely shows that the student union is preparing for different outcomes. Executive Director Ercolé Perrone told The Avro Post earlier this year that IGNITE, as with provincial counterparts, are preparing for nearly any funding scenario.

Correction: This article initially stated that IGNITE club presidents needed to remain opted in to all fees when, in fact, they just needed to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee.

Exclusive: IGNITE offers 50% off Frosh for those who opted in

SPECIAL REPORT 

IGNITE on Friday morning sent an email seen by The Avro Post to students that remained opted in and paid their Social Programming Fee with a code that allows recipients to buy Frosh tickets for 50 per cent off the normal price of $20, further confirming that the Student Choice Initiative is establishing new precedents for those enrolled in post-secondary education.

After a request for comment, the student union quickly confirmed that students who had already bought tickets to Frosh at full price and opt in will be reimbursed. Also, students that opt in and pay their fees ahead of the Sept. 16 will also receive an email with the discount code.

Frosh this year is a paint party being held Sept. 21 at Woodbine Racetrack. Party kits were offered for free for the first 1,000 students that signed up, on the condition that they opted into the Events and Opportunities Fee. Frosh is open to guests for the price of $30.

An analysis by The Post in late August on the party kits condition identified a precedent for future events, showing that IGNITE will naturally favour those that fund their services through exclusive offers.

Exclusive: Students holding unsanctioned naloxone training on Tuesday

Staff | Report

In an event not sanctioned by the administration or the student union, members of the Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber community are holding a nalaxone training session at North Campus on Tuesday, The Avro Post has learned.

“We are holding the event because two overdose prevention sites in Toronto permanently closed since roughly a week ago, despite the fact that CBC reports that over 600 overdose-related deaths happened during the first half of 2018,” one of the organizers, Hannah Derue, said.

Though the training starts at 12:30 p.m. on North Campus, the exact location of the session has not yet been disclosed because “volunteers of the group are concerned that the institutions will actively try to dismantle the session”, Derue, a campus activist, added.

Those interested in attending the training session are encouraged to get in touch with Derue on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

The group of concerned students previously approached IGNITE, staff at Humber College and Student Life at University of Guelph-Humber to hold a session with the aim of training students to use the life-saving naloxone kits, but all three campus institutions denied their request.

“We understand that there is a serious need for grassroots intervention due to the inaction of this government and our respective institutions. We’re doing this to save lives,” an organizer added. Naloxone kits are used to treat those experiencing opioid overdoses.

Derue, graduating from psychology program at Guelph-Humber in the next few weeks, explained she understood part of the rational on Humber and Guelph-Humber’s denial is that there is already a security guard in place at all times who can administrator the kit.

“They do not condone training students in the safe handling and administration of naloxone, even though it is harmless even when used on an individual who has not initiated an overdose or consumed opiates whatsoever,” those planning the training told The Avro Post.

The concerned students requested to have external healthcare practitioners brought on campus to carry out the training but they faced rejection with that suggestion. It is not uncommon for post-secondary institutions to offer naloxone training to student leaders and their peers.

There is a nurse at Humber College that is equipped to train staff and faculty to administer naloxone, but it is unclear how many of those employed have utilized the training.

The Avro Post has reached out to IGNITE, Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber’s Student Life department for comment. The Avro Post’s Arnold Samson will be reporting on the training session as it happens on Tuesday.


Image of Humber College from The Avro Post.

Exclusive: Metrolinx says Humber College in contact over Presto machine

Eli Ridder | Report

A Metrolinx spokesperson told The Avro Post on Wednesday that Humber College has been in contact with the crown corporation over having Presto vendor machines on its North and Lakeshore Campuses.

After an initial statement from Metrolinx that gave recommendations on where students could load up the smart passes, a spokesperson confirmed after some questioning that “we have heard from Humber” about bringing the reload machines to the college’s Toronto campuses.

There are upwards of 30,000 students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber and thousands of them utilize multiple forms of city and intercity transit — most of which, if not all of them, accept the smart Presto cards.

In January, Humber Et Cetera reported that it did not appear a Presto machine would be coming to campus anytime soon, leaving students to find a machine elsewhere or load their cards online, a process that takes sometimes 24 hours to finish.

IGNITE Vice President-elect Megan Roopnarine had included in her election platform a promise to try and bring a Presto refill vendor to campus.

“It’s great news,” she said in response to the announcement in a reply to an inquiry from The Avro Post, saying “I’m looking forward to see what happens, it is much-needed for the student body.”

When asked if she will reach out to the Humber College administration to find out what movement they have made towards bringing a Presto machine to campus, she said Thursday “that’s the plan.”


Image of PRESTO from PRESTO via ImpCom.

Exclusive: Nazim drops IGNITE app from platform

Eli Ridder | Exclusive

Vice President Maheen Nazim, who represents University of Guelph-Humber students, told The Avro Post on Wednesday that she dropped her plans to launch an IGNITE app that would offer student services.

Nazim two months ago declined to comment on the app pledge, a key part of her platform during the IGNITE elections campaign season in March that saw her elected with 412 ballots in favour.

The fourth year instead told The Avro Post that the mobile IGNITE app would “not be an initiative this year”, explaining that “student communications” would be her focus.

Nazim said that the work would “include the collaboration of technology and IGNITE to help foster better communication”, without going into further specifics.

An analysis by The Avro Post in consultation with mobile technology experts found that an IGNITE app with all the services Nazim wanted would cost roughly $100,000.


More details to follow. Image of Maheen Nazim from IGNITE website.

Guelph-Humber student denied strike relief funds

Chayton Allen, a second year Media Studies student, was denied access to strike relief funds by the University of Guelph-Humber, who claim he is ineligible due to a Ontario student loans assessment.  

Mr. Allen applied for the funds in the final week of classes and clearly provided documentation that he did not receive money from the Ontario Student Assistance Program and pays for school himself by adding his credit card statements.

“The letter states that the expense has been calculated within my OSAP assessment, but I do not understand how there can be an assessment on something that is not there”, said Allen.

“It’s difficult to work almost full time while going to school, I have no time to myself just work and school. Missing five weeks of my education which I paid for out of my own pocket is an injustice.”

The Guelph-Humber student received an email from one of the university’s financial aid advisor on Monday stating that the information in his application is not eligible according to the ministry and that his expenses were calculated in his OSAP assessment.

Allen, frustrated and confused responded to the rejection that the institution is wrong for not giving him the $500 after the five weeks of strike.

“This is clearly a business and you take money very quickly but are reluctant to give any back when you guys are in the wrong. I am not happy with this school, financial services or this strike relief fund because it did not do anything for me,” Allen wrote in an email response.

“At best you guys are sleazy businessmen, good job exploiting thousands of innocent students all while taking minimum $28,000 dollars after [four] years.”

Allen said he rejected a soccer scholarship from Algoma University to come to Guelph-Humber because of its degree and diploma program, a move he said he now regrets.

“So therefore as a 20 year old student I am now further in debt due to a strike that I had no control over and now I am receiving this letter saying that I am ineligible for a portion of my tuition.”

Allen plans to appeal the decision to Guelph-Humber’s financial aid advisor, followed by a student strike relief fund panel.

The Avro Post reached out for comment from Guelph-Humber but has not received a response.


Relief fund

Guelph-Humber’s strike relief fund was set up late in November, mirroring the program launched by the provincial government following the five-week-long faculty strike that affected all 24 public colleges in Ontario.

The fund, announced on Nov. 28 of last year, was created in partnership with the Ontario education ministry, IGNITE and Humber College to help students who suffered with “specific unanticipated expenses” because of the strike, which lasted for over a month.

“The Student Strike Relief Fund provides assistance for students who have experienced unanticipated hardship as a result of the strike,” reads a description of the program given by the university’s financial aid office in its email to Allen.

“The fund is consistent with the framework developed by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development in consultation with student leaders and colleges.”

On Oct. 16, over 12,000 faculty, librarians and counselors went on strike, leaving the 24 public colleges and some 500,000 full and part-time students without classes due to collective bargaining negotiations not meeting a 12:01 a.m. deadline.

The University of Guelph-Humber decided to close campus due to not being able to offer all of its programs in full and with the building being behind a picket line, administrators couldn’t ask students to cross it.

University faculty-taught courses started up again online by Oct 30, with full on campus classes returning Nov. 20, and college courses resuming the day after.


More coverage to follow. Image of the University of Guelph-Humber by Leonardo Yokhana/The Avro Post. 

Reporting by Kaela Johnson and Eli Ridder.

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