EDITORIAL: Student’s questions remain unanswered about IGNITE membership, fees

by | Jan 30, 2020 | IGNITE

ETC Staff

The Special Meeting of the Members last week was meant to bring understanding to the student body about the potential changes coming to IGNITE. It was also an opportunity to give members a chance to ask questions of their elected officials and learn how and why these changes benefit them.

But instead of clarity, those gathered were treated to a procedural nightmare that left observers stunned — with many of their questions unanswered — as the foundation of IGNITE changed before their eyes.

The final moments of the meeting were filled with confusion as Ryan Stafford, IGNITE’s vice-president at Lakeshore, called for a motion to approve the bylaw changes while there were still questions on the floor.

With a second from Nav Sidhu, a member of the Board of Directors, the questions were cut off and the vote began. And while the crowd was trying to get its bearings, a strike of a gavel ended the meeting and the transformation was complete.

Now IGNITE’s Board of Directors will hire the president and vice-presidents rather than electing them, with their titles being changed to Student Engagement Co-ordinators to better represent the non-profit status of IGNITE.

The elected members of the Board of Directors will become the face of IGNITE, to better reflect where the power has been all along.

But potentially the most questioned change was the creation of three different classes of IGNITE members, which are the students that fill the coffers with fees.

The classes include Full-Time members, full-time students who pay the mandatory fees, Full-Time Enhanced Members, who are full-time students who pay both the mandatory and optional fees, and Part-Time Members, part-time students who pay prorated fees.

Ostensibly this is the same set up that was instituted with the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative at the beginning of the fall semester, with the optional fees being the same.

The Ontario Divisional Court quashed the SCI in November after a legal challenge by the Canadian Federation of Students and the York Federation of Students.

When this was brought up at the meeting to Neto Naniwambote, the chairman of IGNITE’s Board of Directors, who said a stay had been placed on the original decision while the courts go through the appeal process.

“I don’t know if you understand the law, but when the law is appealed and you’re waiting on the courts, it’s on a stay,” Naniwambote said. “We are just following the process before the motion was struck.”

At the time of the SMOM, the court didn’t stay the case, nor are stays automatically in place during the appeal process. The province’s SCI program set aside, with “an order in the nature of certiorari shall (be issued) quashing the impugned directives by Justices Harriet E. Sachs, David L. Corbett, and Lise G. Favreau.”

Questions about these changes and the status of the fees were coming from students at North and Lakeshore campus alike, despite efforts from the Board of Directors to rush the proceedings along.

Julia Ciampa, a Board member, and Naniwambote twice suggested proceeding although there were still questions in the room, as well as potential questions from students at the Lakeshore and Orangeville campuses.

In a meeting with Ercole Perrone, the executive director of IGNITE, he said the meeting would have no time or question limits. He reinforced this at the meeting after Naniwambote’s attempt to end early.

“As long as it’s relevant and not a regurgitation of the same question, no [time limit],” Perrone said.

This was less than three minutes before Stafford called for a motion to approve, with hands still raised on the floor. The vote was swift and lopsided, and without an official headcount announced on stage, the changes were final.

The meeting lasted about 32 minutes, from opening gavel to closing gavel. And now Humber students are left with unanswered questions, unsure if IGNITE’s chosen path is the correct one.