IGNITE’s Board of Directors will propose seven bylaw amendments at a Special Meeting of the Members, seeking approval from the students they represent from Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber to end executive elections and hand over more unilateral power to the Board, among other items.
IGNITE’s Board of Directors will propose a series of bylaw amendments to members of the student union — all full-time students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber — and there will be a vote for or against the package of proposals.
The vote will take place at the Special Meeting of the Members being held at the North Campus Student Centre and digitally via Lakeshore’s K Building. Any student can get into the SMOM with their student identification.
It starts at 11 a.m. and will be live streamed via IGNITE’s social media. The Avro Post will also have live reporting, analysis and opinion online.
A quorum, or minimum, of 50 students is needed for a vote to happen. A simple majority of 50 per cent plus one would be needed to pass the package of bylaw amendments, an omnibus move.
The seven amendments being proposed at the Special Meeting include:
ending executive elections in favour of three hired student engagement coordinators.
handing the Board of Directors the ability to pass bylaw amendments unilaterally, with only retroactive approval by members at a later meeting.
classifying members into part-time, full-time and full-time enhanced, based on their opt-in decisions.
using the term “president” for the current role of Board chairperson, who is elected among the Board.
handing the execution of documents over to the executive director, believe to currently be the role of the elected president and a vice president.
requiring that Annual Meetings include an updated list of required agenda items.
clearly defining the difference between mandatory and optional fees, a new reality because of the Student Choice Initiative.
These changes, IGNITE insists, are in the best interest of the student body and introduce updates that align with the updated Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act.
How did we get here? The Board of Directors passed the seven amendments during its September 2019 meeting, but because they change the student union’s Constitution, they need approval from the members.
If the members vote in a simple majority — 50 per cent plus one — to approve the proposals, then they go into effect immediately. If the students vote against in the same fashion, then the amendments do not pass and nothing changes.
Can students vote on each amendment independently? No. IGNITE officials have said they do not feel the amendments differ much from each other and are appropriate to pass as a package.
What will happen specifically during this meeting? The meeting will start with a call to order and an approval of the meeting minutes of the 2019 Annual General Meeting, which is routine and is expected to pass without any issues.
Then, the package of amendments will come forward and there could be discussion among the students, who will be able to ask questions of the directors, staff and potentially executives in a press conference-fashion, if prior public meetings are to go by.
No matter the decision at the Special Meeting, history will be made.
(CUP) — A panel on China’s human rights violations was held in Concordia University’s Faubourg building on Jan. 15.
The experts, who were invited by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), expressed concerns about the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Western China. They also discussed the brutal repression in Hong Kong and Tibet, as well as China’s increasing influence on the Western world and its implication for the future of democracy.
The event took place just days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) executive director Kenneth Roth was denied entry into Hong Kong and HRW’s launch event for its World Report2020 was disrupted by protestors, according to MIGS executive director Kyle Matthews.
“Human rights issues in China are nothing new,” said speaker Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, Senior Fellow at both the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy and the University of Alberta’s China Institute. She listed historical events such as the Cultural Revolution, the Xidan Democracy Wall, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre which she said “trampled on individual human rights in a myriad of ways.”
McCuaig-Johnston continued to explain that although China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty since 1978, this is not the same as ensuring individual human rights. She described how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses detention as a pressure tactic against dissidents and the abusive conditions under which they are detained, which were revealed by HRW’s interviews with former prisoners. She also explained the social credit system, in place since 2014, and the CCP’s widespread interference in Western countries.
Both McCuaig-Johnston and Benjamin Fung, a Canada Research Chair in Data Mining for Cybersecurity and an Action Free Hong Kong Montreal activist, highlighted the CCP’s infiltration in Canadian academics and described the pressure on faculty and Chinese students to self-censor criticism of the Chinese government.
The CCP’s use of technology, such as facial and voice recognition for repression, was also extensively discussed by both experts. Fung additionally focused on Chinese companies’ goal to expand the 5G network––he explained that the CCP controls every large corporation in China and that technology companies are obligated to cooperate with Chinese intelligence units.
“It’s about trust, you trust Apple to update your iPhone because it is a private company,” Fung explained, adding that we cannot trust Chinese companies who would introduce malware into the 5G network if the CCP asked them to.
Fung also spoke in detail about China’s one country, two systems policy and the CCP’s broken promise: its decision to maintain control over Hong Kong’s government instead of allowing universal suffrage, which Fung asserts was promised in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. He described what he called an ongoing humanitarian crisis and a system of police brutality, lengthy prison sentences, sexual assault, and white terror––attacks on pro-democracy activists.
The situation in Tibet was discussed by Sherap Therchin, executive director of the Canada-Tibet Committee, who explained it has been 70 years since China illegally invaded Tibet, and the Western world seems to have forgotten about it. He described the CCP’s reflexive control strategy: how they have been feeding manufactured information about Tibet to target groups so consistently that the Western world now believes their narrative that Tibet was historically part of China.
Therchin continued to explain that in the Western world’s eyes, control over Tibet is now an internal issue––a problem for China to deal with without Western influence.
Finally, Dilmurat Mahmut, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Education, talked about the Uyghur re-education camps in place since 2017. According to documents obtained through an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, an estimated 1 million Uyghur Muslims are detained in these camps, but Mahmut said these numbers could be as high as 3 million. He explained the history of the region of Xinjiang, originally East Turkistan, and the CCP’s labeling of all Turkic Muslims in the region as potential terrorists or pre-criminals.
Mahmut described the conditions in what the CCP calls vocational training centres, and explained that Uyghur children are being forcibly detained and sent to state-run orphanages where they are forbidden from learning the Uyghur language and, instead, only learn the Chinese culture—he called this cultural genocide. Mahmut finished his presentation with a warning from Roth on the dangers of not challenging Chinese human rights abuses and worldwide interference.
After the new North American free trade deal approved by U.S. Senate, the Canadian government plans to ratify the deal next week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Tuesday in a news conference after a three-day cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, saying that it’s the government’s utmost priority to push forward with the Canadian-U.S.-Mexico agreement, known domestically as CUSMA, as millions of jobs depend on the new trade pact.
“On Monday, we will present a ways and means motion, and on Wednesday we will table legislations to ratify the deal,” said Trudeau, describing what will take place next week.
In order for the Liberals to pass this legislation in
a minority government, they will neeed the support of another party in the
House of Commons. Trudeau had expressed is hopes that all parties will
negotiate and cone on ratification together.
“What we are doing is reminding everyone in the House and across the country of how important it is to secure the most important trading relationship for future generations.”
CUSMA has been on the top of the list of government priorities that were discussed during the cabinet meetings in Winnipeg.
The cabinet ministers also listened to expert guest
speakers, who discussed other important matters including the fight against
climate change, the current state of the country’s economy and pressing global
affairs, among other critical matters facing the new minority government.
The trade deal, a result of a year of sometimes rocky negotiations with with the Trump administration, has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the president’s signature. It has also been approved in Mexico.
Justin Trudeau said in Winnipeg “we are going to make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible.”
Conservatives who are the main opposition, are generally supportive of the deal, but have vowed to grill the Liberals over its specifics when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday.
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.
“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.
This is a specific list of every known decision made by the current term of IGNITE’s Board of Directors, since May 2019.
The items are organized by significance, but are accompanied by time stamps.
Ercolé Perrone is the executive director of IGNITE and the top paid staff. He has worked at the student union for over a decade.
The Board of Directors is a governing body made up usually of nine directors, but this year it is 10 because, for the first time, there is an Orangeville director.
The executives are made up of one president and a vice president from North and Lakeshore Campuses as well as the University of Guelph-Humber.
Kristin Gavlan is the Leadership Initiatives Coordinator.
IGNITE is the student union for members at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.
Major items first:
Sept. 11, 2019: Directors pass package of seven bylaw amendments that change the structure of how IGNITE will govern. More on these proposals here.
Nov. 13, 2019: Directors pass Board policy update banning all non-members of the Board from attending meetings, a move highly unusual for a student union. More here.
Oct. 9: First talks in minutes regarding closing off the Board of Directors meetings and the proposed “Media Days”.
At each meeting the minutes of the previous one was passed. IGNITE is then, according to its bylaws, to post the approved meeting minutes from the month previous. However, the student union has been late, sometimes by over 50 days, each time this academic year.
May 9, 2019: Neto Naniwambote chosen as chair of the Board and Nav Sidhu chosen as vice-chair. More here.
May 9, 2019: Motion to approve the appointment of Vanessa Silaphet as the Board Secretary for 2019-2020. More here.
May 9, 2019: Motion to approve the appointment of Monica Khosla – President and Megan Roopnarine – Vice President Guelph-Humber, as the alternate signing authorities.
Sept. 11: Approval of May 9 meeting minutes. However, these minutes will not be posted for some time. More here.
Sept. 11: Approval of hired Vice President Shay Hamilton after election Simran quit over the summer.
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Washington Wizards 140-111 on Friday.
The Raptors has seven players who scored double figures. Norman Powell led scorers with 28 points in 30 minutes off the bench.
Terence Davis played 24 minutes and scored 23 points, including five three-pointers. Marc Gasol put up his best performance of the season, he had 20 points and made six three-pointers.
Leading the @Raptors with 6 (of their 19) three pointers made so far tonight, Marc Gasol has tied a career high for a single game (also did so with the Grizzlies on Mar 30, 2018 vs UTA & Nov 14, 2018 vs MIL)
OG Anunoby scored 18 points. Serge Ibaka had 15 points and eight rebounds. Pascal Siakam scored 12. Kyle Lowry had 11 points and eight assists.
Troy Brown Jr. led Washington with 22 points. Isaac Bonga recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards. Bradley Beal had a surprisingly quiet night against Toronto with only 14 points.
Ish Smith and Davis Bertans scored 12 points apiece. Anžejs Pasečņiks had 11 points.
The Raptors set a franchise record in three-point field goals made in a game with 22.
Here are some more interesting stats about the Raptors win:
Despite not starting for the @Raptors in their blowout of the Wizards tonight, Norman Powell put up a game high 28 points. As a result, he tied 2 others for 3rd on this list of efforts off the bench in franchise history pic.twitter.com/89KZWKSgBW
Tying a franchise high for points in a single game tonight, the @Raptors offensive explosion saw them post a total 7 higher than the 2nd most on this list of games only needing 4 quarters to decide pic.twitter.com/h0ZqNcVj8N
Even with many injuries & a supposed "championship hangover" threatening to disrupt 2019-20 early on, the @Raptors have managed to go 27-14 & be 4th in the East at their halfway point. They also tie for the 4th best total here pic.twitter.com/U80O6u6vpC
IGNITE on Friday ramped up its promotion of a critical Special Meeting of the Members with new posters calling on students to “voice your opinion” and vote on a package of proposed bylaw amendments that would bring significant changes to the structure of the student union if passed.
Any Humber College or University of Guelph-Humber student with their post-secondary identification is allowed entry into the meeting taking place in North Campus’ Student Centre, with a live stream taking place in Lakeshore’s K Building. It starts at 11 a.m. on Jan. 22.
An email went out on Friday afternoon to all students from the student union encouraging students to attend the SMOM. “IGNITE will propose policy updates to align ourselves with the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act,” the email read.
At the Special Meeting, several bylaw amendments previously approved by the elected Board of Directors will come forward to the student body at-large for approval. The proposed changes include hiring executives instead of an election process and giving more unilateral power to the Board, among five other items.
(CUP) — An anti-abortion group on campus has lost its club status after months of heated controversy and debate, blocking them from accessing resources and funding through the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, or UOSU.
University of Ottawa Students for Life UOSFL first received preliminary club status back in October 2019 from Campus Vibez uOttawa, the body that coordinates clubs under the UOSU. The school’s former student government, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), had previously stripped UOSFL of its club status in 2017.
Anger and backlash from students quickly followed and the status of the club was called into question a few weeks later when a petition with 500 signatures was sent to the undergraduate student union calling for its removal.
The decision on the club status of UOSFL was then moved to a meeting of the UOSU’s student life committee, where representatives from UOSFL and pro-choice supporters who launched the petition against the club were invited to attend and voice their arguments. The meeting was held on Dec. 20, with the committee eventually voting to remove the club status of UOSFL, which was announced earlier this month.
UOSFL has the option of challenging the committee’s decision at the union’s upcoming board meeting this Sunday. Under the current ruling, the group can still remain active on campus but does not have access to funds, promotion, or room rentals through the UOSU.
Bridget Dueck, administrator of the Defenders of Our Campus pro-choice group, and Garfilia Milousis, co-president of UOSFL, attended the student life committee meeting. Both said they have experienced harassment and threats in the midst of the debate over UOSFL’s status.
Dueck said a delayed decision from the UOSU has caused her unneeded stress and anxiety. She said she expects there will be an appeal by the UOSFL and encouraged students to attend the appeal meeting to voice their concerns.
“I’ve played a more active role and spoke out more, but it’s really a group,” said Dueck. “This whole movement is kind of an organism of its own. It’s not just one person that’s spearheading the movement anymore. It’s more of a group of students that are all working together.”
Dueck said that along with the resources official UOSU clubs receive, it’s also about the title that comes with it.
“It is a monumental privilege that not every group is going to be eligible for,” said Dueck. ”That title carries a lot of weight to the students and, to me, because they are recognized, they carry around the community, they represent the community.”
Milousis said the UOSU’s process has been much more transparent than the previous decision from the school’s former undergraduate student union, the SFUO, but said that flaws still exist in the new system.
Both Milousis and Dueck agreed that the final meeting held on Dec. 20 and the General Assembly on Dec. 7 were unfair to students who were studying for finals and headed home for the holidays. Milousis called it a learning experience for the UOSU, and the union says it will no longer allow meetings to happen in the middle of exam season.
Other student unions across the country have also taken pro-choice stances and blocked anti-abortion clubs from their funding or resources, but Milousis argued that while principals and examples of other cases may be referred to, they should not be used to influence a decision as the circumstances and details may vary.
“What I would say is different from those cases and the situation at the U of O is recently the Ontario government has put forward a free speech policy that’s supposed to regulate universities and require them to uphold free speech on campus,” said Milousis.
While Milousis commends the student union for listening to both sides of the arguments, she said she believes there was bias in the decision from the start, since the UOSU took a pro-choice stance on abortion at an October 2019 board meeting.
Milousis said she thinks the decision on her club’s status was made even before the General Assembly in December took place.
“By nature of the UOSU taking the pro-choice stance, they’ve already positioned themselves as closer to (the pro-choice) side,” she said. “So not only do I have to address the concerns, but I somehow have to win them over.”
Milousis and Dueck said members of their groups have not engaged in harassment online, but both reported received threats from anonymous and third-party sources.
“I’ve had a number of death threats,” said Milousis.
“I have experienced harassment from fake profiles online,” said Dueck, “I had a message from a profile that felt very threatening, saying that I was going to burn in hell. I don’t want that on campus.”
The UOSU’s next board meeting is scheduled for Sunday at 12 p.m. in the Tabaret Hall Senate Chamber, where UOSFL has the option of appealing the student life committee’s decision.
Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel series from creator Vince Gilligan will come to a close after two more seasons.
AMC’s favourite criminal lawyer will no longer be in business very soon. Deadline has confirmed that it was renewed for a sixth and final season. This news comes just weeks away from the premiere of the fifth season.
Better Call Saul developed as a spin-off/prequel series focusing on James McGill, a small-time lawyer being overshadowed by his brother.
After a number of trials and tribulations that test his will and desire to remain as a law practitioner, McGill eventually coins the name Saul Goodman and begins dabbling in criminal law.
The spin-off series has yet to bring in fan favourites like Walter White (Bryan Cranston) or Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), however supporting characters like Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) have had their characters expanded upon.
The finale to season 4 saw McGill begin to embrace his criminal side, and a recent teaser for the fifth season heavily hints at him pledging himself to act as a lawyer for those who don’t necessarily deserve it.
Season five of Better Call Saul premieres on Feb. 23, 2020 on AMC.
Canadian families of those that died on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 earlier this month will receive $25,000 in financial compensation from the federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.
Ottawa will supply the funds for the loved ones 57 Canadians left behind when the Boeing passenger jet crashed outside Tehran on Jan. 8 “to assist with their immediate needs, such as funeral arrangements and travel.”
Ahead of the announcement, Trudeau had met with the country’s Incident Response Group over how to respond to the crash and regarding an ongoing international investigation into the incident, caused by an Iran-launched surface-to-air missile.
The new name of the executives, the source of the proposal ending executive elections and a lot of deflected questions — this is what took place at Thursday’s information session hosted by members of IGNITE’s Board of Directors and other officials ahead of the Special Meeting of the Members.
Who was present? For the time that The Avro Post had reporters present from 12 p.m. to about 12:50 p.m., Board Chairperson Neto Naniwambote and follow North Campus Director Eden Tavares were in attendance.
Who else? Guelph-Humber Director Erika Caldwell, who hosted her own similar event last week with her counterpart, Leadership Initiatives Coordinator Kristine Gavlan and Vice President Megan Roopnarine, who also represents Guelph-Humber.
So what did we learn? Probably the biggest story here is the constant deflections or, in most cases, the lack of knowledge the directors have about their own bylaws. When a reporter and a columnist with The Post pushed the directors present on some of the questions we had, they didn’t have much to say.
When it came to the question of IGNITE not allowing a Post reporter into their September Board of Directors meeting, going against a rule in what was then in their policies, Caldwell said she would not comment on previous events.
The second up to bat when it comes to big news items are the statements from Tavares and Gavlan that revealed it was IGNITE’s lawyer who was at least part of the initiative to end executive elections and hire students instead.
Tavares specifically said the lawyer “proposed” the amendment while Gavlan stated that the idea of ending executive elections had been “on the table” for some time, without specifying how long. The Post asked several times exactly how long the concept had been considered but Gavlan only answered that with a question: “Why do you want to know?”
We learned some new and exciting things about what the executives will become. First off, they will be called “Student Engagement Coordinators”. Secondly, there will only be three of them and the way directors explained it to The Post , there will no longer be a president-like role.
Thirdly, they will be hired regardless of campus, based on merit only. For example, if the three best candidates are from Lakeshore Campus, then they will be hired.
Finally, the student engagement coordinators will be hired via a panel that Gavlan said would include a representative from the Board of Directors and a member of the administration. The hiring group would be chosen in such a way to avoid conflict-of-interest. For example, staff that have worked with an applicant that was previously a director would not be part of the panel.
A reminder: a lot of these changes actually come down to a vote by students before they are set in stone. On Jan. 22 there will be a Special Meeting of the Members that any full-time student can go to and vote. Part-time students can go but cannot vote. All that is required is a student identification.
IGNITE’s Eden Tavares, an elected representative on the Board of Directors, told The Avro Post during an information session on Thursday that the proposed amendment to end executive elections in favour of a hiring process was, in part, initiated by the student union’s lawyer.
After a reporter and columnist from The Post pressed for an answer several times, Tavares revealed that IGNITE’s lawyer “proposed” the amendment included in a package that was passed by directors at a Sept. 11 meeting. The proposed change will need approval by the student body at a Special Meeting of the Members later in January.
The question over the origin of the specific bylaw amendment was first asked to Leadership Initiatives Coordinator Kristine Gavlan, who said that the student union’s lawyer was “supportive” of the move but stated the idea of ending executive elections “was on the table” for some time.
When asked how long specifically the amendment was in the works, Gavlan declined to give a time-frame. The amendment ending executive elections was passed at the second meeting of the 2019-2020 term of the current Board, meaning that if the idea of hiring executives was in the works for some time, it was likely carried over from a previous year.
It is not the first time that significant changes to the student union have originated with a different administration from the one at the helm when an initiative comes to fruition. Former Vice President Jeremy Alfonso told reporters last year just before his term ended that the reason his central campaign goal of bringing back an alcohol-serving bar back to North Campus never came to fruition was because the pay-what-you-can soup bar was prioritized in a previous IGNITE administration.
Alfonso was not the only executive in IGNITE’s history to have his campaign promises shut down without at least immediate explanation to the student body. Maheen Nazim campaigned on creating an IGNITE app that would include functions such as informing users how full a parking lot was. All of the initiatives brought forward have to be approved by the Board of Directors, as they sit at the top of the student union.
Is it this issue of campaign promises getting sidelined by larger objectives set by the student union that is part of the decision to end executive elections, officials have maintained. Additionally, Gavlan confirmed that the terms for the hired executives — to renamed “student engagement coordinators” if the amendment is passed on Jan. 22 — would be two years. Caldwell said last week that the two-year term proposal was “up in the air”.
Gavlan explained the longer term length for the coordinators would aim to bring more consistency to the role they hold within the organization, which is focused on operations and carrying out the Strategic Plan as a whole and year-to-year initiatives. By installing a longer term, the students that are chosen will have the time to adjust and grow into the role, Gavlan added. Current President Monica Khosla will, by April, have served two full terms.
The most-used reasoning repeated by officials for taking the hiring route is so that the best qualified students fill the roles, instead of what they call a “popularity contest”. IGNITE joins at least two other student unions in Ontario, including the Sheridan Student Union, by taking this direction.
The revelation on Thursday that a lawyer for IGNITE played a significant role in initiating a bylaw amendment process could lend further credibility to the claim made last year by two former student officials that the priorities of paid staff or third parties could override or have a major influence on the decisions made by elected student representatives.
IGNITE has included a summary list of the bylaw changes coming forward to the Jan. 22 Special Meeting of the Members in three separate articles published to its website, a list that actually does not include every amendment.
The list has changed form once from when it was first published in an article by Managing Editor Alena Banes in late October, but all three include these two amendments that are coming to the SMOM:
IGNITE will end executive elections and hire students for the president and vice president positions.
new classifications of students: part-time students, full-time and full-time “enhanced” — those who pay one or more of the optional student fees.
However, there are actually seven amendments coming forward for student approval or rejection on Jan. 22. Here are the other five that IGNITE only mentions on their website within the Sept. 11 Board meeting minutes:
give power to the Board to pass amendments without needing approval at a Special Meeting of the Members.
the term “president” will be used for the chairperson of the Board.
the execution of documents will be overseen by the executive director.
annual general meetings to include an updated list of required agenda items.
Humber College announced on Wednesday that “community gatherings” will be held on Thursday morning at its North and Lakeshore Campuses in support of those impacted by the crash of Flight PS752 in Iran earlier this month that caused the death of 63 Canadians, including many students.
IGNITE’s Board of Directors are holding an information session on Thursday afternoon at Humber College’s North Campus focused on the proposed bylaw changes coming forward to students at the Special Meeting of the Members later in January.
The directors will gather in KX203 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the student union said on Wednesday morning. Guelph-Humber’s two directors held a similar gathering last week where they were able to answer some of the questions related to the changes, though deflected others.
IGNITE has also highlighted the Special Meeting, or SMOM, in a new post published online giving three reasons to attend: “to shape the future of IGNITE”, “to exercise your role as a student member” and to get involved and “feel empowered”.
“The SMOM will be opportunity for all students to vote on how power is allocated within the organization,” Managing Editor Alena Banes writes in a blog post on IGNITE’s website, featured near the top of its home page as of Wednesday.