IGNITE: A turning point for student participation

SPECIAL REPORT

There were three decisions made that lessoned student participation in their union.

As temperatures dropped below freezing and most of the hallways stood empty, six elected representatives of Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber’s student body passed a formal policy barring anyone but themselves from attending Board of Directors meetings, a move with significant implications that critics say brought an end to an era of more public, transparent governance.

This policy was passed by the Board, but it will never be revealed who voted for or against the decision. It was also not known that the policy was passed until the minutes came out over two months later in January, meaning one stalwart of democratic involvement came to an end in a shadowy, private meeting, its location hidden from the student body at large.

There were three significant decisions made in the last five months that, together, could contribute to a shift from the more open, traditional style adopted by organizations at post-secondary institutions across the country in the 1970s and 1980s to a new structure that is closed, corporate and, according to Executive Director Ercole Perrone, modern.

These decisions include the policy to cut off the student body from Board meetings and two bylaw amendments that, if passed, would grant the Board of Directors unilateral power to pass future amendments and would spell the end of executive elections in favour of hiring newly titled student engagement coordinators instead.

Eight directors gathered at Humber College North Campus on Oct. 9 to hold a busy Board of Directors meeting. Though The Avro Post seeked out the location of the gathering in an attempt to at least try to attend as granted by the Constitution of the student union, four reporters were unable to find the directors, and thus none of what occurred was known until records were released later in the year.

However, to understand the significance of the conversation that took place at the meeting, as recorded in the minutes, the context of what occurred prior is critical.

Starting in the spring of 2019, The Avro Post began to send journalists to Board of Directors meetings for the first time since the previous academic year following the announcement of the Student Choice Initiative by the provincial government.

Like many other student unions, IGNITE at the time stated on its website that they allowed and even encouraged student attendance at the meetings of the directors, who are elected by the student body and are paid a stipend of up to $3,500 at the end of their terms, funded by students paying fees at the beginning of each semester.

When Post reporters went to a Board meeting in February, they were able to break the story that the annual budget was delayed until the opt-in rate was known, so that the student union would know how many dollars they had to make decisions with.

That meeting was on the same day when the election “mix and mingle” events were held. Not only were reporters in attendance, but so was then-candidate, now-director Erika Caldwell, who wanted to get a sense of what the Board was like and how it operated. There was no objection to journalists being in attendance at the time.

It was when the new term started in May that IGNITE’s approach changed. A reporter from The Post travelled from Guelph to be present at the first meeting of the current Board but was denied at the door for not being a student. The reporter was denied entry, however, because the executive director claimed that the journalist was not a student. The reporter in question was already accepted in Humber College at that point, but it was a grey area.

But September was definitive. A fully enrolled second-year student and reporter with The Post, Kristy Lam, was sent to Lakeshore Campus to cover the first meeting of the fall semester, one believed by editors to be critical to the fiscal plans of IGNITE following whatever the results of the Student Choice Initiative would be. Lam was not allowed in.

The reporter was told by Leadership Initiatives Coordinator Kristine Gavlan that she would not be allowed in because the policy had changed in regards to who could actually attend the meetings. This came as a shock to the staff of The Post as the policy posted at the time stated any member can attend the Board, and can only be removed with a vote or if the directors vote to go in-camera.

It was at this meeting that seven bylaw amendments were passed by the directors. Two of those items, if passed into the Constitution at the Special Meeting of the Members on Wednesday, would hand the Board power to pass future amendments without needing approval from a members meeting to come into force and end executive elections in favour of hired Student Engagement Coordinators.

A new policy, in secret

At the next meeting in October, one that Post reporters attempted to find, the process to cut off students from the Board of Directors was first recorded. Amid updates on the opt-in rates from the Enhanced Student Experience fees, two policies were proposed. One of the proposals had to do with visitors at the Board.

“Amendments brought forth were made by IGNITE’s lawyer, including board meetings are not available for visitors and clearer language stating minutes are approved at subsequent meetings,” the records state, confirming what Director Eden Tavares told The Post earlier in January. 

The minutes continue: “Some members agreed with the advice provided by the lawyer and expressed that meetings being closed allow for board members to speak freely, honestly and candidly without feeling uncomfortable.”

However, the record notes that there was consensus among the directors that the language proposed on Oct. 9 was not explicit enough. The directors decided that the policy would “be reviewed by GRC and presented again for approval at [the] next board meeting.”

Included in the record was a reference to “IGNITE Media Days”, that the minutes say “allow for student[s] to ask their questions to IGNITE directly and receive responses”. It is unclear what this is referring to as there have been no events The Post is aware of that went by such a title. 

However, there was a press briefing on Oct. 4 that officials said would occur on a monthly basis. It is unclear whether these briefings continued as The Post was cut off by the student union for what President Monica Khosla claimed was inaccurate reporting.

It was during the November Board meeting at the University of Guelph-Humber when directors passed the policy that formalized the end of open meetings.

“Discussion, as per last meeting, resulted in a consensus from the Board that the policy is to explicitly state that board meetings are strictly for board members – language reflecting this was added,” Vanessa Silaphet wrote in the records.

The motion to approve the policy, along with two others, was moved by Chair Neto Naniwambote, of North Campus, and seconded by Julia Ciampa, of Guelph-Humber. It was carried and passed into existence. From that point on the previous policy of allowing students in was trashed and a new policy of private meetings cemented.

It was earlier in October when The Post first reported that the union planned to move towards a more corporate direction and cut students off from the Board meetings. Within the same month, Khosla claimed that the reporting was inaccurate and stated that because of this and other reporting, The Post would be cut off from IGNITE. This meant that they would no longer respond to interview requests or general inquires during a critical time of change.

Despite the reporting later verified by the Nov. 13 meeting minutes as absolutely accurate, Khosla never walked back her accusations. The Post’s editor-in-chief published an open letter to the student union on Monday pointing out the inaccuracy behind the president’s claim. There has been no response at this point.

Executive Director Ercole Perrone, Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite and directors who have spoken to The Post and other on-campus press maintain that the  reasoning behind having private meetings has to do with the representatives being able to make decisions with “frank” discussion and the ability to not feel the pressure of reporters present. 

It’s not clear what changed from every meeting since 2016, when IGNITE was formed as the Guelph-Humber Student Association was shuttered and the Humber Students’ Federation was rebranded. However, IGNITE’s relationship with student media has been strained since the rebrand because of a few controversial decisions and particular incidents, including at a press conference when an employee of the student union appeared to assail a reporter.

While student reporters will never stop asking, it could be possible that the public will never know if there was a specific circumstance that caused the policy change to come about or if it was a thought that came over time.

The decision to clamp down on visitors to the Board of Directors meetings is one that is only reversible by a vote of the directors to undo the policy. As for handing the Board more unilateral power and the end of executive elections, they are still in a process of being proposed and could be denied by the larger student body on Wednesday.

However, there are still other ways that students can be heard by their representatives, if not keep close tabs on them. Elections will continue for the Board and that is something unlikely to change. 

There will also still be Annual General Meetings when students will have the opportunity to make their voice heard and vote against bylaw amendments that the Board passes. Even with the new proposal to give the Board the ability to pass amendments that will instantly go into effect, there will still need to be approval from the student body. However, if students vote against the amendments, it is unclear how IGNITE would handle retroactively undoing any change they passed at a meeting.

When it comes to the history of IGNITE as a whole, this year marks a turning point. With opt-in rates around 80 per cent, events filling up and a general positive opinion of the student union amongst those at campus, it appears likely that the amendments will be approved on Wednesday. However, there are critics who criticized the new Board of Directors policy and others who will vote against the amendments.

Only time will tell what the impact of these decisions will be.

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.

Exclusive: Humber Gang launches to build student community

SPECIAL ELECTION

Humber Gang launched Friday on Instagram with the goal of bringing students together and building community so that the college experience on Humber campuses is a better one, administrators told The Avro Post.

Found at @HumberGang, the page adds those interested to a variety of group chat conversations. Among the options are a “main group”, female and male-specific groups, a “find a relationship group” and a “friends with benefits group”.

There are three students behind the new account and they spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, though a face reveal is likely to come in the future, they told one of the groups.

The account owners are part of the business administration, business marketing and computer programming programs at Humber College’s North Campus.

As for expansion behind group chats, one of the administrators said that they feature Instagram Story “shoutouts” for those that are “good community members”, want to hold in real life meet-ups and there could eventually be an effort to start a campus club.

The student said they started the page because they were a part of the popular page Humber Confessions, which launched last year, and noticed there were “a lot of people putting in the comments that they were lonely or struggled to make friends.”

“So I created a page to help with that on Instagram.”

There may be a question and answer session in the future, the page told The Post, but for now, they will focus on the groups as the page grows.

Exclusive: Ex-director ‘not surprised’ by IGNITE’s actions

SPECIAL REPORT

A former Board director told The Avro Post this week that they were “not surprised” by IGNITE’s recent changes to governance and transparency, adding that it is the president who, as an executive, has the power to make decisions.

IGNITE has come under fire from students and campus publications alike over a series of moves made or announced since September to cut back on elected student governance and transparency around Board of Directors meetings.

In response to the student union’s unprecedented new direction, the Board director, who served last year and spoke on the condition of anonymity due to career prospects, said that “honestly I’m not surprised with the type of leadership that they have.”

“An organization like this needs to put students first and every aspect of decision making should be asking ‘is this putting our students first’,” the director added in messages to The Post.

Without a students-first approach, the president is not doing her job, the director insinuated.

IGNITE President Monica Khosla told The Post on Oct. 15 that it was cut off from any and all media requests or press briefings until the independent student publication was able to obtain a faculty advisor. Khosla alleged incorrect reporting mostly regarding IGNITE’s plans for the future.

“The president has [the] final say. So, if she is not using her power to make her own decisions and goes by what everyone who works there full time tells her than this is how it’s going to be,” the director said, adding that “she did the same thing last year.”

This director, along with comments from an additional IGNITE source from earlier this year, lends significant credibility for the first time to the indication that the priorities of paid staff could override or influence elected student representatives for the sake of the student union’s brand.

The proposition that IGNITE is more concerned about its brand than student governance has been an allegation from many students over the years but there was never any confirmed indication this was true.

However, with two sources giving such an indication this year and Khosla emphasizing the “harm” being done to IGNITE via allegedly incorrect reporting by The Post, the rumours of branding over governance has now been lent credibility.

The former Board director wrote in their comments to The Post that they felt as if students had come first in the past but it was “up to the president to hold everyone accountable.”

IGNITE’s Board Policy states that the Chief Executive Office is made up of the executive director, the top staffer at the student union, and the elected president.

IGNITE plans to eventually have executives hired instead of elected. Thus, there would be no student-chosen representative as part of the executive and on the several on-campus boards the president sits on, including Humber College’s Board of Governors.

The Board of Directors, made up currently of 10 representatives from three Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber, is charged with holding the Chief Executive Office accountable.

The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE.

An unprecedented interview turns into a strict dismissal

IGNITE TRANSPARENCY CRISIS

Two reporters from The Avro Post entered the North Campus IGNITE offices early on Tuesday afternoon to interview the president of the student union, who was elected by and is paid by students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.

It was the first time ever that a request from The Post to interview any executive was agreed to during their term, as opposed to when they are candidates. Nearly all the currently elected IGNITE executives and Board directors were interviewed by The Post during their election campaigns.

It was an unprecedented interview that Post reporters prepared for. However, before any questions could be asked of the president’s plans for the coming academic year or about the status of IGNITE’s finances following the Student Choice Initiative, which have not yet been revealed.

“Before we start with the interview, we need to address a couple things and make sure that we’re all on the same page here,” Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite said soon after reporters Kristy Lam and Eli Ridder sat down in a conference-type meeting room.

Hypolite soon turned the conversation over to President Monica Khosla, who asked about The Avro Post’s journalism. “I went through your website and I was just curious to know how you fact-check,” she inquired.

At this point, The Post reporters gave a brief explanation. They pointed out that they look to send multiple reporters to the scene of a story and for exclusives or any other type of reporting, aim to gather as many facts, sources and first-hand details as possible for accurate reporting.

During that explanation, the routine request for comment that The Avro Post sends out anytime there is a story related to or involving IGNITE came up. Until last April, when the executive director suddenly started responding to Post requests for comment, there was little outbound communication from IGNITE.

Hypolite wanted to emphasize to The Post that this was because the student union receives several requests from journalism students a day, a statement they first made at the Oct. 4 press briefing. A new communications policy announced at that press briefing aims to change the speed of replies.

It was previously unclear why the student union only started responding in the spring after largely ignoring The Post for the majority of the previous year.

“I just wanted to make sure that we’re clear that it’s really just a function of availability and that’s trying to ensure that we’re doing the best that we can to do our jobs,” Hypolite added.

After The Post reporters talked about the difficulties of finding balance with covering the student union when IGNITE would largely ignore requests for comment and interviews, Hypolite reiterated a point made at the October press briefing: IGNITE welcomes criticism.

“We’re not interested in only just getting good reviews about us, we believe we’re on a spectrum of continuous improvement, so the truth is the truth and we’re happy to take it on and muscle forward,” the acting communications chief explained.

Hypolite then added: “I think it’s when it starts to get outside of those the boundaries is where there’s challenges”, setting up Khosla to point out the errors.

At the October press briefing, a first of its kind called in response to student journalists asking about IGNITE’s move to cut off Board of Directors meetings earlier in the semester, Executive Director Ercolé Perrone explained that, for the time being, the policy was to allow students to the meetings but Board members could vote to let them stay.

Khosla confirmed this, but said that Post reporting was incorrect regarding this: IGNITE will eventually close off Board of Directors meetings to all students with the exception of when the Board requests a student to specifically attend.

“What was said is that members have traditionally have had the option and the privilege to attend Board meetings, but moving forward, should those same students like to [attend], it will have to be a consensus between the Board members.”

Khosla took issue with the terminology of “phasing out students” used in a story based on what was learned at the press briefing. The executive director said it was part of IGNITE’s “best practice” for the meetings to eventually only be attended by the directors.

The Avro Post stands by the reporting as accurate.

Khosla raised issues with other reporting where the terminology was indeed incorrect. The two errors were also tied to the Oct. 4 press briefing: one where the term director was used instead of the correct “coordinator” and a quote recorded as Perrone’s was actually from Hypolite.

Student journalists were not allowed to audio record during the press briefing, despite IGNITE’s claims that they are always open to campus publications.

Then Khosla made the argument that, because The Avro Post is not officially affiliated with Humber College or the University of Guelph-Humber, it is not “on-campus media”. No independent student newspaper in the country is affiliated with their school as they are “independent”. It is the norm.

After this unusual assertion, Khosla went on say that “IGNITE will not be taking meetings with The Avro Post unless you guys are able to take the steps that are necessary to involve a faculty that can have an oversight on your articles to make sure that what’s being written is actually accurate.”

She added that the reporting is “harming for our organization, and this is harming for the students who do read your articles” and that she is “uncomfortable” reading stories that are not accurate.

Khosla added that she would feel more comfortable if a faculty oversaw The Post’s work.

Exclusive: IGNITE tells staff to ignore campus press

SPECIAL REPORT

IGNITE told its staff during a regular meeting at Lakeshore Campus last week that they should not speak to campus press under any circumstances, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Avro Post on Wednesday evening.

The instruction to staff comes amid increasing media scrutiny as IGNITE makes significant changes to how the student union operates in terms of governance.

IGNITE has also made recent effort to improve its relationship with student journalists by starting monthly press briefings and re-opening a media request form online. A new communications director is set to start after Thanksgiving weekend and will likely contribute to the changes.

Also during the staff meeting, which took place on Friday, an individual said that Eli Ridder, editor-in-chief of The Avro Post, has a personal vendetta against the student union. Ridder has been covering IGNITE since October 2017 and has denied any such personal agenda.

IGNITE held a press briefing the same Friday where officials answered questions around incoming by-laws, outlined a new, more corporate future and held a discussion about changing the relationship between the student union and the student press.

The press briefing was largely held in response to inquires from The Avro Post and Humber Et Cetera regarding what appeared to be a new policy closing off Board of Directors meetings after a Post reporter was not allowed access to the first Board meeting of the semester in September.

During that Sept. 11 Board meeting, IGNITE put up a memo on their Governance page saying that, under provincial law, only directors have the right to attend the meetings. While the claim is legally sound under the Ontario Corporations Act, it raised questions over precedent and ethics.

It triggered backlash, including an editorial from the Et Cetera where the student newspaper slammed the student union over transparency issues, and lead to the press briefing where officials clarified that students could go to the meetings but not student journalists.

Despite Executive Director Ercolé Perrone’s claim that regular students could still attend, IGNITE still did not put up the room numbers of the Board meetings that were taken down sometime after Aug. 14, according to a website archive program.

At the time the October meeting’s room location was “to be determined”.

The Avro Post has reached out for comment from the student union. IGNITE represents students enrolled at Humber College campuses and at the University of Guelph-Humber.

IGNITE outlines new, corporate direction for the future

IGNITE revealed in a press briefing on Friday morning that it aims to take a new direction towards a more corporate organization, with Executive Director Ercole Perrone saying they eventually plan to completely cut off students from Board of Directors meetings.

The student union ignited controversy earlier in the semester when, for the first time in recent history, IGNITE denied a student journalist entry to a Board of Directors meeting, a 10-member decision-making body elected by those enrolled at Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber. 

The student union posted new rules during that Sept. 11 Board meeting, saying that under the Ontario Corporations Act, “only the directors of IGNITE have the right” to attend the meetings and that special permission would be needed from the executive director to be able to enter.

Perrone clarified that currently students who do not identify as journalists are allowed into the Board meetings if the members of the Board agree. He added that the IGNITE website needs to be updated to reflect this current policy.

Because of the sensitive information that the Board often handles, such as academic concerns, the student union does not want journalists reporting the often frank discussions that take place.

The Special Meeting of the Members was recently listed as “to be determined” on the IGNITE Governance page but officials said Friday that it has been moved to January so that there is more time to prepare the by-laws for approval by the membership.

The Special Meeting, normally held in the fall and originally scheduled for Oct. 16, will be open to all full-time students on campus, regardless of whether they opted in or not.

Also revealed at the briefing was that IGNITE executives moving forward will be hired by the student union instead of being elected. Officials explained that it was part of an effort to highlight the Board of Directors as the highest body of governance within the organization.

These incoming changes, among others, will be making its way through the student union’s approval process previous to coming before the members in January, where students will have a chance to either vote in favour of or deny the updated by-laws.

However, officials said that they would be making a renewed push for transparency in the form of monthly briefings for student journalists, much like the one that took place on Friday morning, and open a request form for press inquires.

Beyond Perrone, Board Chair Neto Naniwambote, President Monica Khosla and Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite was present. Alena Banes, IGNITE’s managing editor, arrived a few minutes into the briefing.

Student response to the changes were mixed. First year journalism student Anthony Giordano said the proposed by-law changes were “unfair” to student journalism.

“I believe it’s only fair that students have the right to be able to find out about these things,” he added, in opposition to the incoming changes to the Board of Directors that will make the meetings completely private.


Questions deflected

The press briefing was held in KX207 above the Student Centre, where chairs were set up in a circle-like fashion. Journalists were able to ask questions of IGNITE officials that were related to the planned by-laws changes.

Chairs in KX207 after the meeting on Friday.

Several reporters, including two from The Avro Post, repeatedly asked questions regarding the decision to close off the Board meetings and how it was made. As members of a non-share capital corporation Board, the directors would have voted to have meetings in-camera, or privately, without allowing students in.

The questions, however, were deflected by officials, who asked that the conversation remained focused around the by-laws specifically and not topics outside of that line of discussion. It is still unconfirmed at this time if the unprecedented decision to cut off journalists from the Board meetings was passed in a vote by directors or made by IGNITE staff.

Due to the more casual nature of the meeting, student journalists were encouraged not to take notes and have more of a conversation about the future of IGNITE. Out of respect for the open conversation between officials and reporters, no audio recording was made of the meeting, and thus, few direct quotes were captured by The Avro Post.

However, there were significant changes introduced and proposed by IGNITE officials for future communication with the student press.

Officials outlined two new ways that reporters would be able to access the student union: a request form on the IGNITE website and potentially monthly press briefings. Just recently, the former communications co-ordinator Peter Seney left the position and a hire is set to start following Thanksgiving weekend.

Acting Communications Director Unika Hypolite told reporters that he plans to have the interview request form, which was put back up on the website on Friday, have a 48 hour response time over two business days for when media requests are submitted.

Hypolite recognized that reporters have deadlines that need to be met for publishing, especially with the publications such as the Et Cetera, Humber News or GH360 that are tied to programs and grades.

Perrone added that, beyond these efforts working to improve communications with the student press, it is also IGNITE facilitating the academics of students it represents.

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Exclusive: Chase Tang, rising star

A one-on-one interview with an upstart Asian-Canadian actor.

Special Report

With Hollywood finally moving into a modern era of diversity, Asian-Canadian actor Chase Tang leads the charge of a new wave of actors.

As Hollywood finally starts to open the floodgates on diversity, 25-year-old Chase Tang has begun the climb of success having landed a role in the Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy, based on the comic book of the same name.

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Tang’s family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where he grew up as any Canadian child did: playing hockey.

From a young age, Chase would immerse himself in films of all kinds, from spending hours on end watching anything and everything he could, to simply entering a Blockbuster Video and browsing the endless selection of movies, scanning the cases for familiar names and those that were new to him.

The budding actor took time out of his day to sit down with this reporter for The Avro Post over the phone and discuss what it’s like to finally get the opportunity he has worked hard to obtain, because it wasn’t always where his career started.

“I didn’t grow up, you know, being obsessed with theatre or theatre plays or acting – it wasn’t really who I was. It hasn’t come naturally for me, I’ve had to really work very hard the last two, three years in a lot of different acting classes.”

Tang originally studied Business at the University of Guelph and was successful in that venture until he decided to pursue acting.

When asked if there were any movies that he felt personally attached to, be it from childhood or even recently, Tang laughed and explained, “I feel like that in itself could be a completely different phone call, but to name a few; Matthew McConaughey in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

Another is Limitless with Bradley Cooper as well as Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street.” Being a fan of the one-man-army type films, Tang goes on to discuss John Wick, The Equalizer, Taken and Bangkok Dangerous.

After a few minutes of Tang and this reporter gushing over The Wolf of Wall Street, we move on to the main attraction — being cast in Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy. The series is based on the 2013 comic book written by Mark Millar.

“The show is taking a completely different approach than traditional superhero shows. Before you had the ‘good people’ and then you have the ‘bad people’ and that’s been the theme for the last 40 to 50 years.”

Tang continued to delve into the show with passion, “You’ve got these superheroes that have been around and are well respected and have done good, and the next generation is struggling to live up to what their parents have done. It has a generational element that a lot of people can relate to.”

Tang’s character, Baryon, was not actually in the original comic book and was created specifically for the show. “He’s not one of the good guys.” Chase says with a laugh, not giving away too many details.

He continues to tell me that the dream was to always play a superhero as he felt he never really fit the mold of a villain character. Having spoken to Chase for some time now over the phone, I agreed wholeheartedly.

“Ask any girl I knew in high school ‘Hey, was Chase a bad boy?’ and their response would be to laugh out loud.”

As the conversation continued on the concept of good guys and bad guys, Chase revealed to me that he auditioned for the role of Shang-Chi in the upcoming Marvel Studios production, Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings before the role ultimately went to fellow Asian-Canadian actor, Simu Liu, back in July.

“Simu Liu is phenomenal, nothing but amazing things to say about him, I’ve been following his career for so long.” Chase tells me, and it’s easy to hear the sheer amount of respect Chase has for him just in his tone. Despite wanting to interview Chase and his journey, he goes on to tell me about Simu Liu’s acting career and how he has been slowly changing the way Asian-Canadian actors made their mark in film and in diverse casting.

“Simu came in at a time when it was hard. My timing right now is good. Crazy Rich Asians, Marvel and Shang-Chi, Kim’s Convenience; this is what you call good timing. He is someone I speak very highly of, as he’s done great things.”

Chase took the casting process for Shang-Chi incredibly serious. Knowing he didn’t have too many credits to his name, he spoke to four different coaches in order to grow and give himself that chance.

“It was a very lengthy audition and I did audition here in Toronto with the main casting director. I felt very good and got amazing feedback and didn’t hear anything for three weeks, and then I saw Simu post on Instagram that he got the role and I was so jealous, but there’s honestly nobody more deserving of it than him.”

With the call having moved into the realm of Marvel movies, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Tang about a very intriguing topic. Fans of his, especially overseas, have taken to the internet to campaign for him to play Namor the Submariner who is rumoured to appear in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther 2 which is currently in development at Marvel Studios.

“Hopefully Marvel knows who I am, and if they took a strong look at me and considered me, I’d be so honoured to audition. At this point it’s mainly noise and nothing is really formal.” If you’d like to see some of the fan support, you can follow this link.

Asking Tang in a hypothetical sense if he were to get the role of Namor, the question would be if he feels he’s mentally prepared to take on a role of that magnitude where being locked in to a character means numerous appearances and busy press tours, he answered “I was always preparing myself, mentally and emotionally, that if I was given an opportunity like Namor, I would not miss a beat, and I would dedicate everything I have to it.”

As with any actor, there are always naysayers and those who put forth negative energy, be it online or sometimes in person.

When asked how he deals with that, Tang answered “The people who know me, know who I am. If anyone has anything negative right off the bat, if they dig a little deeper and see my story, the negativity won’t be in the picture.”

Closing things out, I asked Tang what piece of advice he has for those who want to pursue their dreams.

“I think the biggest message I want to put out there is that I wasted probably a good five to eight years of my life listening to people tell me who I am. What I’m doing now I probably could’ve done it a little earlier. It’s just being able to live to your full potential. No matter how young or old you are; you always have time. Nobody has a right to tell your story – the pen is in your hands.”

Sharing a few more laughs as our call concluded, I sat at my desk and admired how down to earth and real Tang is, both as an actor and a person and someone who will continue to represent Asian-Canadian actors in the entertainment industry.

Being the Marvel fan that I am, I am definitely in the group who support his potential casting as Namor and I look forward to seeing his performance as Baryon.

Jupiter’s Legacy will premiere on Netlfix in 2020 and for more information on Chase Tang, you can visit him online.

Talks continue over campus Presto machine

Discussions are ongoing between Metrolinx, Humber College and IGNITE for the addition of a Presto machine on campus, officials said on Wednesday and Thursday, with the onus this week on the college to review the financial impact.

Scott Money of Metrolinx said in an emailed statement that the next step in the process was for Presto to provide Humber Sustainability Specialist Devon Fernandes with device costs and specifications.

Money added that Presto hopes to have the information to Fernandes this week. It marks a development in the long running effort to bring the machines to campus, which allow users to refresh their transit credit cards.

Humber College’s communications manager Emily Milic said in an email that “Humber and IGNITE are working together to determine the feasibility of installing a Presto reloadable machine on campus.”

“Currently, students and staff can use the Presto app to reload their cards and they will continue to have this option available to them.”

It is unclear what say the student union will have on the decision to purchase a reload machine for campus, but it has long been move supported by and called for by students.

The Avro Post first reported exclusively in March that Humber and Metrolinx, which owns Presto and GO Transit, were in talks to bring the vendors to Humber’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 the transit systems, 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.

At the time, IGNITE Vice President Megan Roopnarine had just won her election race. She told The Avro Post in March that the development was was “great news”, adding that 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, Roopnarine said “that’s the plan.”

Bringing a Presto machine to campus was on Roopnarine’s election platform as she ran to represent students at the University of Guelph-Humber. If one is added to campus, it would be a win for her advocacy.

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

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