Davis scores career-high in Raptors win over Bulls

The Toronto Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls 129-102 on Sunday.

Toronto shot 56 per cent from the field. Terence Davis recorded a career-high 31 points. He shot 12-15 from the field, including six three-pointers.

Pascal Siakam scored 17 points and had nine rebounds. Serge Ibaka had 16 points, six boards and three blocks.

Chris Boucher had 15 points off the bench, Kyle Lowry had 14 points and six assists. Fred VanVleet scored 14 and had eight dimes.

Thaddeus Young led Chicago scorers with 21 points. Zach LaVine was limited to 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Sophomore Chandler Hutchinson scored 17 points. Ryan Arcidiacono and Coby White scored 12 points apiece.

Here are some Raptors highlights of the night:

Head coach Nick Nurse was named Eastern Conference coach of the month on Monday.

The Raptors host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at Scotiabank Arena.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.


Featured image from Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press.

RSU files legal claim against Ryerson University

STORY FROM THE EYEOPENER

(CUP) — The Ryerson Students’ Union announced on Tuesday that they have filed a legal claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Ryerson University.

This comes after the university announced that they have terminated their 34-year-old 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU on Jan. 24, meaning they no longer recognize the RSU as the official student union. 

In a press conference on Tuesday morning, RSU president Vanessa Henry said that they are “asking the court to require the university to comply with their contractual obligation which includes: recognizing the RSU as elected student representation and remit all student fees to the RSU.”

“The renegotiation process was difficult. We were willing to make concessions but not at the risk of jeopardizing our autonomy and ability to effectively advocate for students,” said Henry. 

Henry also said that the RSU was “in fact, hours away” from sending a new draft of their agreement when they received notice from the university of their termination. 

She added that since the release of Ryerson’s statement, the university has refused to allow the RSU’s academic coordinator to represent student misconduct and has dismissed the RSU’s senate representative from attending tonight’s meeting. 

“We are no longer just defending the RSU, we are setting precedent for student voices throughout Ontario and across Canada. The administration has tried to silence students. We will not be silenced,” said Henry. 

“We as the RSU will not let over 50 years of history to be destroyed. The university has denied our request to release funds and has advised us that they will no longer be returning to the renegotiating table.” 

Henry added that the RSU will host a blackout demonstration on Thursday. Student services, including the Equity Service Centres will be closed.

“Students will witness the impact of Ryerson University’s decision to not recognize the Ryerson Students’ Union and the important work we do on campus,” Henry said.

“We’re deeply disappointed that we have to take this action. However, over the past year the RSU has had to deplete its resources so that it could continue to provide essential services to students,” said Henry.

Story syndicated from The Eyeopener via the Canadian University Press by Madi Wong.

Nominations open for 2020 IGNITE elections

IGNITE on Tuesday posted details and nomination packages for its 2020 elections on social media, setting up its first ever election without executive positions.

There are 10 positions open for students to run for, all on the Board of Directors.

There are four positions open at North Campus, three seats at Lakeshore, two open at Guelph-Humber and a sole position available at Orangeville.

All nomination packages are due by Feb. 14 and can be filled out on the elections webpage.

MGM holds preliminary talks to sell properties

The studio has sought potentially interested companies in purchasing their assets which contain one of the biggest franchises in film history.

The film studio MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer) has sat down with interested buyers for their film assets which includes the James Bond catalog.

The two biggest interested parties are Apple and Netflix. The outcome of either one would lead to an interesting future for franchises like Bond where any subsequent instalments in the franchise could lead to streaming-only content.

Apple’s new streaming service launched with very little hype, at least in comparison to its recent competitor in Disney+, but adding something like James Bond to it could draw some subscribers, especially if any future movies, or series, are kept exclusively to Apple TV+.

Should either of these companies move ahead with the acquisition, it will also lend to a shift to the ‘big six’ of media companies, which include; Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Comcast, AT&T and Apple.

Aside from Bond, one of the other large properties coming with an MGM acquisition includes The Handmaid’s Tale which has been a popular show on Hulu for the past couple of years.

No finalized buys have been singled out.

Basketball great Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

Basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a California helicopter crash on Sunday along with at least one of his daughters and seven others, reports and officials said.

LIVE: Coverage from CBS News

A fire broke out sending his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter spiralling out of an overcast sky above Calabasas and killing all five on board. It has been widely reported that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore is among the dead.

During a brief initial press conference on Sunday evening, authorities said that there were nine killed in the crash. Police received a call at 9:47 a.m. that a helicopter may have crashed, officials said.

The Bryants were on their way to Mamba Academy for basketball practice, reports say.

Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman, said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating. Sikorsky says it is cooperating with authorities to find out the cause of the crash.

Photo of the crash scene via Twitter.

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, sevens months.

The L.A. Lakers star is considered one of greatest basketball players of all time. He spent his entire 20-year National Basketball Association career with the California team.

Bryant, 41, won five championships and was an 18-time all-star. He is known for scoring 81 points in a single game.

The basketball great’s final tweet was sent out on Saturday evening, congratulating LeBron James for taking his position as third on the ladder in overall career points.

Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 but began a new career in Hollywood. In 2018, he won an Oscar along with director Glen Keane for the animated short film “Dear Basketball”, the L.A. Times reports.

IGNITE Vice President Ryan Stafford, who represents Lakeshore Campus, posted a tribute to the basketball legend on his Instagram Story.

Obituary

The following obituary was posted by Reuters news agency:

“A transcendent star who went straight from high school to the game’s biggest stage, Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers and was the face of the franchise during his 20-year career.”

“Bryant, a small forward and shooting guard, averaged 25 points during his career and twice led the NBA in scoring.”

“He was an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the jersey numbers 24 and 8 – both of which were retired by the Lakers – and continued the ‘Showtime’ tradition of the storied franchise that has been home to the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.”

U.S. President Donald Trump called the development “terrible news”. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Bryant “will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”

An NBA game taking place at the time the news broke took a moment of silence and soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. made a “24” symbol with his fingers after scoring a goal on Sunday.

1st possible case of coronavirus in Canada hits Toronto

Provincial health officials announced Canada’s first “presumptive” confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Saturday with a male patient in Toronto.

“We’re pretty well 95 per cent sure” that the patient has the virus, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams during a press conference. Authorities will give a new update if the patient upgrades to a confirmed case of the virus.

Williams was flanked by provincial officials, including Health Minister Christine Elliott.

The 50-year-old patient had returned back on a plane from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated from before being admitted to hospital feeling “quite ill”, an official said.

The patient is being treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and is in stable condition.

“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate,” Mayor John Tory said in a separate statement.

The Canadian case is just the latest of several confirmations that have sprung up around the world over the last week.

The province has set up an information webpage that will have daily updates.

Bell Let’s Talk Day coming to Humber

Bell will be bringing their yearly Let’s Talk event to Humber College this week.

Let’s Talk Day is a national day of raising awareness about mental health and furthering the conversation of acceptance, support and to decrease stigma.

The day also encourages the use of various platforms including social media to engage individuals. Bell also donates money to mental health funds based on messages sent throughout the day on their cellular network and social media posts.

Bell will be hosting two events at both Humber North and Lakeshore Campuses on Jan. 29.

The first event will be held at North in the LRC, starting at 10 a.m. and finishing at 12 p.m. The second event will be held at Lakeshore in A170 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is open to both Humber and Guelph-Humber student

Students who wish to contribute to the cause can make a tweet, a social media video, use Bell’s Facebook frame or Snapchat filter and also use the hashtag #BellLet’sTalk on social media.

In defiance, RSU plans to continue on despite university cut off

The Ryerson Students’ Union said late on Friday that it would continue on and encouraged student support despite Ryerson University saying that it would no longer recognize the organization as the official student government. 

The university said that it would cut off the RSU because the student union did not fulfill all three requirements set out by Ryerson last January in the aftermath of an incident involving the misuse of student union money.

The RSU said the termination of a 34-year-old agreement between Ryerson and the student union “undermines the authority and democratic rights of students”, adding that it “does not accept this termination as valid under the agreement.”

The student government said in a statement it anticipates talking to students at an upcoming general meeting on Feb. 3 and encourages students to get involved in upcoming yearly elections.

The RSU is a separate entity from the university, with its own Board of Directors elected from among the students on a yearly basis and corporate structure.

In January 2019, The Eyeopener unveiled alleged financial mismanagement to the amount of $250,000 by former RSU executives that took place over an eight-month period that started in May 2018.

The questionable spending included bills from LCBO locations, a shisha lounge and Casino Rama, The Eyeopener reported. It led to the impeachment of former president Ram Ganesh.

Ganesh’s successor announced in March 2019 that PricewaterhouseCoopers would tackle a full forensic audit of the expenses. It was recently completed and the students’ union earlier this week filed a report with Toronto Police.

In its statement earlier on Friday, Ryerson University said that it had “tried, in good faith, to negotiate an agreement that ensures that a model of good governance and accountability forms the basis for a partnership that puts the student experience first.”

“Despite the university’s best efforts to be an accommodating and collaborative partner, the RSU has failed to meet the conditions set out in January 2019,” Vice Provost, Students Jen McMillen said.

The university made the decision last year to withhold the ancillary fees collected from students instead of transferring them to the RSU unless three conditions were met: a forensic audit was carried out, the audit was shared with Ryerson and a new operating agreement was negotiated.

Ryerson claims the forensic audit the RSU just completed was not shared with the administration. A new deal to replace the now-cancelled 1986 Operating Agreement has not been worked out.

Despite not fulfilling all of the requirements set out by Ryerson, the RSU insisted it “has always been willing to engage with the [u]niversity, but refuses to make concessions to the [u]niversity that will jeopardize students.”

Decision undermines ‘democratic rights’: CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students’ provincial division said Ryerson University’s decision “undermines the democratic rights of students and student organizations that represent them”.

In a more formal statement released on Friday evening, CFS argued that autonomy was key for a student union to “effectively represent their membership”.

“Internal challenges are best addressed through the democratic structures that exist within students’ unions because they are the processes agreed upon by the union’s membership,” the organization said.

They added that the RSU has demonstrated it took the allegations of financial mismanagement “seriously” and had taken several actions to address the problems.

The statement did not mention the university’s statement that the student union did not follow through the three demands set out by the administration.

The CFS went on to argue that there are mechanisms in place internally so that the greater student body can hold student organizations accountable, explaining that students are empowered by elections, general meeting and referendum to solve issues that arise.

“Ryerson University’s move to terminate their agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union is a paternalistic overreach that undermines these democratic mechanisms,” the press release says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new era for IGNITE

With the passing of several bylaw amendments on Wednesday at a Special Meeting of the Members, IGNITE on Thursday strides into a new era with five months of decision-making behind it.

Elections will start in a matter of weeks and, for the first time in its history, the student union will not be electing executives. There will only be candidates for the Board, which sits at the top of IGNITE. 

There will be open seats at Humber College’s North, Lakeshore and Orangeville Campuses as well as at the University of Guelph-Humber. This next generation of directors will preside over a very different student union then the one the current term was handed last April.

In some ways, there will be more certainty.

They will enter a student union that has been reset with a new, more corporate direction moving forward through a new base rule: By-law No. 1 — which resets the rules for IGNITE with the bylaw amendments that students passed at the Special Meeting of the Members, combined with the skeleton of the previous Constitution.

That is not to say there will not be challenges. Chief among them will be the ongoing legal struggle over the Student Choice Initiative. Currently, the province is looking to appeal the decision made by the Ontario Divisional Court to strike down the initiative.

Several student unions, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, have cancelled opt-out portals, ending its optional student fees and returning to the previous status quo of 100 per cent mandatory fees.

IGNITE reiterated its position on Wednesday that it would not end optional student fees while the SCI was in essential legal limbo.

If the Ford administration is successful in repealing the court ruling, student union officials said they would not want a scenario where they would have to flip-flop between mandatory and optional fees.

Directors will also have to manage hiring and overseeing the new student engagement coordinators, who will replace the current executive model.

They will be hired staffers within the student union and sit below the executive director and alongside part-time staff, according to graphics released by IGNITE.

‘Captain Marvel 2’ officially in development

Carol Danvers’ sequel has officially been greenlit at Marvel Studios and is aiming for a 2022 release.

Debuting twice in a small window of March – May 2019, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) thundered into the MCU and became an icon for young women everywhere. Now, in a world post-Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios is moving ahead with a sequel for 2022.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, however, are not expected to return. Marvel is still looking to keep the female eye for the director’s chair but no frontrunners have been announced. Boden and Fleck will remain with Marvel Studios in some capacity, and are rumoured to be discussing an upcoming Disney+ property.

The film is expected to take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame despite the mild cliffhanger teased in the first film which hinted at a long-running war between Carol and Ronan The Accuser.

The sequel will be written by WandaVision scribe Magen McDonnell.

Captain Marvel 2 will come to theatres in 2022.

Jack Fisher: ‘I know IGNITE can do better’

OPINION

Jack Fisher
Contributor
The Avro Post
Our Opinion Policy.

I know well the stress that comes from hosting a public meeting as a student leader.

As the organizer of an event like the meeting IGNITE hosted on Wednesday, you know everything that’s going on, and your ideas and your stance seem so incredibly obvious to you.

However, just like so many other places, there are a lot of people that don’t know how to ask the right questions. Just like every comment section on the internet, you can scroll through all the good comments and praise, but the one thing that sticks with you is the negative and uninformed comments.

This stress and frustration tend to build up until there’s a whole flutter of butterflies in your stomach. Even if you’ve spent weeks planning something, its possible that your advertising doesn’t get out on time. You overthink whether you’ll achieve quorum, and you brace yourself for a barrage of uninformed questions and criticism that you imagine will turn into a personal attack as soon as your event is over.

This isn’t to say that I know this is how anyone on IGNITE was feeling on Wednesday morning, but I can imagine the tension that was behind the table on stage today at Humber College’s North Campus. I know the board has probably deliberated all the details for hours.

You could tell from the responses of the board members and chair that they had practiced their reasoning. They’ve been thinking about this for weeks, if not months. You could tell, because what the crowd got as answers was internalized jargon. We heard citations of the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and confident assertions that the decisions were made in consultation with legal professionals.

All of this is to say that, from a student executive position, the Special Meeting of the Members went incredibly well. There was only about 15 minutes of questioning, everything passed as planned, and the meeting itself was exactly 30 minutes long with maybe 70 people in attendance — more than was required for quorum.

Unfortunately, knowing how I felt as an executive, also tells me that there is a philosophical difference between myself and IGNITE.

When I was on the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association executive as president, we hosted one public meeting of this kind; the Annual General Meeting. We put aside almost two hours of time to field student questions, our nerves were running rampant, because one of our biggest principles was transparency with our finances, and clarity of information about process and activity.

So often, student leadership can lead you to working in a small bubble where other people don’t understand what you’re doing or why, but it is so imperative for student unions to be clear, and patient.

I don’t think IGNITE is out to destroy the culture of Humber and Guelph-Humber. I’m sure they know the good work they’re doing. Working firsthand in student support is a self-made internal justification for the decisions you make.

What I saw during the Special Meeting of the Members was a group of students whose hearts may be in the right place, but they have not embraced the communication aspect that some students demand.

Culture of the school aside, I know IGNITE can do better.

I hope this new structure will allow the directors to be the liaisons that I didn’t see Wednesday. Like I said in a letter to the provincial government last year: “proper policy is not created by consulting only those that agree with you”.

The best we can do as student governments is to never stop asking questions, and always keep listening.

Efficient, but ‘rushed’ Special Meeting goes IGNITE’s way

ANALYSIS

It was over in 30 minutes.

The Special Meeting of the Members on Wednesday saw the end of executive elections, the secretive Board of Directors gain more power and a reclassification of the students IGNITE represents into three different streams.

It all happened very quickly once the question period was over. In fact, reporters were almost cut off from some final queries when Vice President Ryan Stafford attempted to move ahead with the motion to adopt the amendments before the journalist was done.

Jack Fisher, a contributing columnist who was last year the president of the University of Guelph’s student union, called the meeting “rushed”, and explained to The Avro Post that it would have, from IGNITE’s perspective, seemed efficient without any major bumps along the way.

But what does this mean for you, the students? Likely the item with the biggest impact on your day-to-day student life will be the new classes of members.

Two of the classes are not new: there will be “part-time members” which are part-time students paying a small amount in fees to the student union. “Full-time members” are those enrolled in full-time studies at Humber College or the University of Guelph-Humber who choose not to opt-in to any of the optional IGNITE fees.

A third, new classification is “Full-Time Enhanced Members”, students who opt-in to at least one of the six optional fees.

As we’ve seen from the last semester, those that opt-in will receive some exclusives, but on Wednesday that was cemented in the new bylaw amendments.

“Members that pay particular fees are entitled to various rights and privileges of IGNITE,” the document only released to the public on Wednesday stated. It adds: “Explanation of their rights and privileges are outlined in the IGNITE Membership Benefits Policy.”

That’s the first public mention of the so-called Membership Benefits Policy, which officials said on Wednesday would be released after it was passed by the Board of Directors, without giving a specific time frame.

What else?

The public meeting came to a close with six new bylaws in place, a number different than the seven recorded in the September meeting minutes when they were first passed but still containing the same content.

Beyond the re-classification of members, the biggest change students may notice is the end of executive elections. This means the president and three vice presidents who each represent North, Lakeshore and Guelph-Humber respectively will no longer exist.

In their place will be three student engagement coordinators that will be hired via a panel made up of different stakeholders.

The changes will hand the Board of the Directors the ability to pass bylaw amendments that are applicable immediately without needing member approval until the next public members meeting.

If the larger student body votes down an amendment previously passed by the Board, directors said in response to reporters that there would be a retroactive rollback of the changes and its impacts.

The summary released at the Special Meeting on Wednesday also clarified the change in regards to the execution of documents. Because there will no longer be a “president” position starting in April, documents that need the signature of an IGNITE executive will be passed to the executive director — the top staffer of the student union — or by a designate chosen by the elected directors.

Wednesday also saw the end of the term “Constitution” that was used to describe the student union’s document of bylaws. Now they will simply be titled as the ‘By-laws.”

The amendments also included more details on the clarification between the mandatory and optional fees. Over a year ago, the provincial government introduced the Student Choice Initiative, mandating that certain fees paid by students were to become optional as of the 2019 fall semester. IGNITE has now classified these fees formally as “Mandatory IGNITE Fees” and “Optional IGNITE Fees”.

Also included in the changes was the change to the format of Member Meetings. Instead of presenting items to be approved ahead of a meeting such as the one on Wednesday, IGNITE will present, approve and ratify proposals all within the same day.

It was an update made on the “recommendation and request of IGNITE’S lawyer” that Wednesday’s agenda claims keeps with “industry standards” and “best legal practices for compliance with the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act 2010.”

A lot of this will not have some major impact on your student life but some of the amendments will make it harder for you to know what is going on, coupled with a Board policy passed in November cutting the student body at-large from its meetings.

Proposed changes to IGNITE approved in student vote

Members of IGNITE — full-time students enrolled at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber — voted in a strong majority to pass a package of bylaw amendments proposed by the Board of Directors on Wednesday, approving plans to bring an end to executive elections and hand more unilateral power to the Board, among other items.

The Special Meeting of the Members was short and concise, lasting only 30 minutes. It started with a call to order before moving on to approvals of the agenda and the 2019 Annual General Meeting minutes, routine items that passed without objection.

The bylaw amendments, previously passed by the Board at its September meeting, were read to an audience of over 30 voting members in the North Campus Student Centre and to another approximately 25 watching from Lakeshore and Orangeville via a live stream.

The four executives — made up of a president and three vice presidents from each major campus — will be replaced with student engagement coordinators that will carry on a similar role and be hired via a panel that will include both directors, staffers and officials from Humber and Guelph-Humber, depending on the candidate.

The Board of Directors, made up of student representatives from each major Humber College campus and Guelph-Humber, will continue on as elected on a year-to-year basis.

Questions that arose largely centred around the fate of executive elections and the reclassification of students into different categories based on their opt-in decisions. Both students and reporters asked questions to the four directors and President Monica Khosla on stage.

Wednesday was the first time that the public received a more in-depth, formal summary of the bylaw amendments. A four-page document, for the first time, outlined the exact changes to the structure of the organization that will be carried out now that they are approved.

IGNITE maintains that the changes are both “in the best interests of students” and better align the student union with the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act.

When it came to a vote of the members, a large majority of students raised their hands when Board Chair Neto Naniwambote asked who was in favour of passing the changes. When he asked who was against, it appeared less than 15 members across all campuses showed opposition.

The public meeting came to a close with six new bylaws in place, a number different than the seven recorded in the September meeting minutes when they were first passed.

Beyond cancelling executive elections, the changes will hand the Board of the Directors the ability to pass bylaw amendments that are applicable immediately without needing member approval until the next public members meeting.

If the larger student body votes down an amendment previously passed by the Board, directors said in response to reporters that there would be a retroactive rollback of the changes and its impacts.

IGNITE will now break students into three classifications of part-time, full-time and “full-time enhanced” — for those that opt-in to at least one of IGNITE’s optional fees.

The summary released at the Special Meeting on Wednesday also clarified the change in regards to the execution of documents. Because there will no longer be a “president” position starting in April, documents that need the signature of an IGNITE executive will be passed to the executive director — the top staffer of the student union — or by a designate chosen by the elected directors.

Wednesday also saw the end of the term “Constitution” that was used to describe the student union’s document of bylaws. Now they will simply be titled as the ‘By-laws.”

The amendments also included more details on the clarification between the mandatory and optional fees. Over a year ago, the provincial government introduced the Student Choice Initiative, mandating that certain fees paid by students were to become optional as of the 2019 fall semester. IGNITE has now classified these fees formally as “Mandatory IGNITE Fees” and “Optional IGNITE Fees”.

Also included in the changes was the change to the format of Member Meetings. Instead of presenting items to be approved ahead of a meeting such as the one on Wednesday, IGNITE will present, approve and ratify proposals all within the same day.

It was an update made on the “recommendation and request of IGNITE’S lawyer” that Wednesday’s agenda claims keeps with “industry standards” and “best legal practices for compliance with the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act 2010.”

Confusion by some

There were over 30 students gathered at North while about 25 sat in Lakeshore’s K Building to participate in the proceedings. Orangeville Campus also had students watching remotely but it was not immediately clear the number of those participating.

Those present that voted included IGNITE officials not on stage, friends of the directors or executives, students who were aware of the proceedings ahead of time and others that popped in as they were passing by in the Student Centre.

Because there was a limited promotion period for the Special Meeting and not all seven amendments being proposed were posted by IGNITE ahead of Wednesday, Information Technology students Preetkamal Singh and Bhumi Shah told The Avro Post that they were completely in the dark over what was taking place.

“It was confusing for us because we’re new here” Singh said, adding that the pair would have to “go home and have to read” about what took place. The first-year North Campus students added that they chose not to vote as they were not clear on the specifics of the amendments.

Jack Fisher, who was last year a student union president at the University of Guelph, said in comments to The Post that he was “shocked by the speed of the meeting” and the rushed question period that nearly saw students cut off as officials attempted to move the amendments forward to a vote.

“It’s obvious that transparency to the student body is not high on their list of priorities” Fisher, who is now journalism post-graduate student at Sheridan College, added.

“My biggest question is ‘what’s next?'”

Reporting by Eli Ridder, Joelle Awad;
Files from Kristy Lam; Editing by
Eli Ridder.

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.

How a November meeting finalized the end of open Board meetings

On the evening of Nov. 13, two reporters from The Avro Post peered over the edge of a railing on the second floor inside the University of Guelph-Humber’s building on North Campus, scoping out the conference room on the main floor where a Board of Directors meeting was scheduled to take place.

At least it was scheduled for the room before IGNITE took down the exact location and times for the meetings last year ahead of the fall semester’s first Board meeting in September. This was before the student union’s acting communications director told the Humber Et Cetera in December that reporters would no longer be allowed inside the meetings.

Knowing the importance of what takes place at the meetings, Post reporters were determined to at least try to find where the directors were gathering. In the end, it was unclear if the directors were in the room, and the student reporters departed soon after.

After September’s meeting minutes revealed the extent to which IGNITE planned to make significant changes to its governance structure and other aspects of how it operated, it solidified even further how critical the Board gatherings were. Officials said in October that reporters, and students at large, should not be allowed inside the meetings so that directors could speak freely and be “frank” about sensitive subject matter.

Typically, other boards across the province go “in-camera” should there need to be a section of the meeting in private. IGNITE has the same option buried in its Constitution, but it has apparently not used it in at least a year.

At an Oct. 4 press briefing, officials told reporters from the Humber Et Cetera and The Avro Post that they planned to move IGNITE in a more corporate direction, which included phasing out student attendance and only having directors at Board meetings, a move unprecedented across student unions in Ontario and beyond.

Just days later on Oct. 15, The Avro Post was cut off from asking for interviews from elected representatives and media requests, with IGNITE claiming that we had inaccurate reporting, chief among them that the student union planned to cut off students entirely from the Board meetings.

However, the November meeting minutes reveal that the directors approved a policy that says “board meetings are strictly for board members” — cementing a policy it appeared to have been using all semester, that, up until the policy was approved in November, was breaking its own bylaws.

Even then, it is unclear if the Board was allowed to unilaterally pass such a resolution without approval from members at a Special Meeting of the Members.

The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE.


What came forward on Nov. 13?

Out of the several items that were listed among the records from the November Board of Directors meeting, the most significant one was the revelation that IGNITE was working with Humber College to create a Testing Centre phone app to cut down on wait times.

The minutes state that the student union is “currently working” with the college to create an app “to cut down wait times and registration process during peak times of the year”. Though the meeting was before the end of the fall semester, test centre wait times resulted in a wave of complaints from students in December.

The initiative to cut test centre times is one of the objectives Vice President Shay Hamilton listed to The Avro Post in an interview last year, after she was hired as a replacement after her predecessor stepped down due to personal reasons. 

The project is just one of five listed as part of an “Executives Initiatives Update” given at the meeting by Executive Director Ercole Perrone on behalf of President Monica Khosla.

The update included new details on the campus-wide effort to bring a Presto machine to campus, an effort that IGNITE deemed “cost prohibitive” at the time. It was later that month when Metrolinx officials confirmed to The Avro Post that a Presto machine would be coming “early in the New Year”.

As a continuation of Khosla’s efforts to improve accessibility over two terms as president, Perrone said in his initiatives update that the student union is working to turn “last year’s accessibility themed feedback”, which included in-person focus groups and an online survey, “into an action plan for key stakeholders/departments on campus”.

A fourth initiative update was on IGNITE’s LinkedIn Local events, which aim to build up networking and improve profiles on the social media website. Though “attendance reached capacity of the venue”, not many students were physically present, according to the minutes. Perrone said that strategies to tackle the drop off in attendance will “be reviewed.”

The fifth highlight of the initiatives written into the meeting minutes brought up the free IGNITE SkillsCamp event, which was set to take place two days after the Board meeting on Nov. 15. It was a full day session that offered to teach students skills for networking and job interviews.

IGNITE posts agenda ahead of Special Meeting

IGNITE on Friday published an agenda light on details for the upcoming Special Meeting of the Members within a post that listed just two of the seven bylaw amendments the student union will bring forward to members for final approval later this month.

Amid confusion and some backlash over the set of proposals, IGNITE said in the post that the amendments are “minor” and “will be in your best interest”. Full-time students will be able to vote on the propositions as a combined package at the Jan. 22 public meeting.

The amendment proposals include ending president and vice president elections in favour of a hiring process, giving the Board more unilateral power for future amendment approval and splitting the union’s membership into new classifications, among other items.

The Board of Directors, made up of 10 elected students from Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber, passed the amendments last year at its September meeting.

In an update posted on the student union’s website without notice at some point on Friday, IGNITE states that “change means making strategic decisions that help students like you”, adding that the policy updates are to “align with the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporations Act.”

It is the first time that IGNITE has confirmed the bylaws coming to the Special Meeting, or SMOM, outside of highlights of the amendments found in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes. However, the agenda does not include all of the amendments elected directors passed last year.

Emelia Maceášik, who ran in 2018 to be a University of Guelph-Humber senator, questioned the changes and the description IGNITE gave them in their latest post. They asked: “Are the changes for the benefit of the students, or to benefit Humber College as a corporation?”

“How exactly are any of these minor, and if there is actual backlash then IGNITE should reconsider how they are communicating with students and address our concerns in an open and accessible way,” Maceášik, a fourth year psychology student, said in comments to The Avro Post on Saturday.

The SMOM will start at 11 a.m. from the Student Centre at Humber College’s North Campus. Much like the presidential forum of the 2019 election, it appears IGNITE will also simulcast the SMOM to the Student Centre at Lakeshore Campus.

IGNITE on Friday also released meeting minutes nearly a month late for November’s Board of Directors meeting. The records reveal that IGNITE lost North Campus Director Shawayne Dunstan, without going into specifics on why.


What are the changes?

A “summary of the proposed changes” listed by IGNITE in their Friday post included:

  • the amendment to end executive elections in favour of a hiring process.
  • the amendment divide members into the three classifications of part-time members, full-time members and full-time enhanced members. The “enhanced members” would be those students who opt-in to one or more optional fee at the beginning of the semester.
  • a statement saying that the Board of Directors “will now be the face of IGNITE, rather than the executives”, which is not a formal amendment.

IGNITE did not include the other five formal amendments that were listed in the Sept. 11 meeting minutes. The directors also propose:

  • giving the Board of Directors power to unilaterally pass amendments, without approval by members to come into effect.
  • using the term “president” for the Board chairperson role.
  • the executive director, IGNITE’s top staffer, overseeing the execution of documents.
  • having an updated list of required agenda items for Annual Meetings.
  • clearly defining mandatory and optional fees.

The agenda is posed on the student union’s homepage. Featured right below it as of Saturday is an Oct. 29 blog post that gives further explanation for ending the executive elections, a proposal that first came to light at an Oct. 4 press briefing.

It is unclear why IGNITE did not include all of the proposed changes in its post, or why the bylaw amendments were not included in the agenda itself. Student unions across Canada usually disclose more details ahead of member meetings.

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