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.

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