During times of great change in an organization, it is imperative that one factor remain constant: transparency.
No matter what the choice entails, if the institution remains transparent, then all those who want to, or need to, be a part of the transition can participate.
Humber’s student union IGNITE is about to go through a major change in the way it operates on Jan. 22, with the executive branch — the president and three vice-presidents — transforming to hired positions from currently elected positions.
They seem to know how important transparency is. In fact, the top of the governance page of their website says “IGNITE is all about transparency.”
They may believe this is true, but they have done nothing to prove they know what true transparency is.
Transparency requires being as open as possible with an organization’s inner workings. It means making board meetings are open to anyone who wants to attend. It involves working with every member of the student union on every issue imaginable.
What IGNITE has instead is a chairman of the board who is uncomfortable with official interviews being recorded, and an organization that shuts journalism students out of board meetings under the guise that it would make board members uncomfortable.
All of this may be acceptable for an individual. But when these are the actions of an organization with an $11 million budget meant to represent the student body, it raises eyebrows. It suggests the student union doesn’t want reporting of hard conversations during the meetings or questions about what it does.
IGNITE’s preferred form of transparency is social media, its website and face-to-face conversations with students. And while it is a valiant goal to speak to every student, it’s also a pipe dream.
This is where the media comes in. Media can have these face-to-face conversations with officials at IGNITE, parse through the noise and deliver facts important to the student body.
The reason we can do this is simple: we’ve been taught. We are all at Humber College to learn, and part of our education is learning what’s news and what isn’t.
A full form of transparency would be allowing reporters into these meetings, to observe and ask questions, and trusting that we will be responsible with the information, like our professors have taught us.
Instead we not given agendas and are expected to rely on minutes which are not fully developed.
Currently, the media seems to be distrusted by IGNITE. IGNITE only bring media into the fold only when it benefits them.
When there is an event they want reported, they love the coverage. But then we’re invited to media availabilities where TV students can’t video and radio students can’t audio record. And this passes as transparent.
What’s confusing is the conclusion that as much transparency as possible is a bad thing. This is not the first editorial or story Et Cetera has written about IGNITE’s transparency issues, and if they consider their actions to be transparent, it unfortunately won’t be the last.
All the media is looking for is a chance to do our job to the best of our ability, and right now, if IGNITE continues to act like this, that is simply not possible.