IGNITE ELECTION: Lakeshore candidates push for international students’ rights, transparency

by | Mar 10, 2020 | Campus News, IGNITE, Lakeshore, News

Jared Dodds, News Reporter

The race for IGNITE directors to represent Humber’s Lakeshore campus is being hotly contested by seven students looking to fill just three spots.

The candidates running include Gabi Hentschke, Ryan Stafford, Sabina Khannanova and Shrikant Kediya. 

Aashi Jhunjhunwala, Cordell Brathwaite and Hafsa Ahmed are also running but could not be reached for comment.

The candidates’ reasons for running are varied, with some interested in pushing for real change and others wishing to build on IGNITE’s existing structure. 

Ryan Stafford, current IGNITE Vice President and Business Administration student, said he wants to provide the best experience for every student. (Jared Dodds)

Ryan Stafford, a second-year Business Administration student and current vice president of IGNITE, and Sabina Khannanova, a post-graduate student in Global Business Management, both want to continue to grow IGNITE’s current platform and continue the work it has done for students.

“I realized the ability and networking opportunities there were being in IGNITE, and I wanted to continue my journey with them because I saw how positive the work they do is,” Stafford said.

Khannanova is also aiming to put students first.

She wants to use IGNITE’s events to learn more about the electorate so she may better represent their interests.

Hentschke, a second-year International Development student, and Kediva, a post-graduate student in Marketing Management, are instead looking to instill radical change in the organization. 

Both international students see problems with how IGNITE is operated and will advocate for change should they be elected.

“Overall, I feel there is a gap between students and [those] who make the decisions at IGNITE,” Hentschke said. “Students don’t feel like they have the power to change stuff. There are a lot of things we want changed but we just don’t know who to go to.”

Kediva said these problems — what he calls “glitches in the system” — are especially prevalent for international students.

He said IGNITE needs a different approach when it comes to managing its $11 million budget.

Shrikant Kediya, post-graduate student in Marketing Management, said the system doesn’t always work international students. (Jared Dodds)

“I come from India, which is a very financially conservative country,” Kediva said. “I think that is something which is very much needed when running a budget that large.”

The largest divide among the candidates concerns the topic of transparency.

Kediva and Hentschke both want to increase IGNITE’s level of transparency by opening up board of director meetings, which were closed in a bylaw change in November.

“Why would a board meeting be closed?” Kediva said. “This is the students’ money and if you don’t want to answer questions regarding the students’ money, why are you in this job?”

Hentschke said she would also advocate for opening meetings.

She raised questions about past board members saying they were uncomfortable with media being present during board discussions.

Gabi Hentschke, a second-year International Development student, is pushing for IGNITE to be more transparent with students and media. (Jared Dodds)

“Students should know what is happening, what decisions are being made and why they’re being made,” she said. “Yes, sometimes they’re tough decisions, but students should be able to know why they’re being made.”

Khannanova takes a more measured approach to transparency, choosing instead to focus on the form of delivery and ensuring accuracy.

“You have to choose the right way to deliver your message and have students understand you,” she said. “It really needs to be careful while still telling the truth.”

Sabina Khannanova said that IGNITE needs to help students access health supports. (IGNITE)

Stafford was the lone candidate interviewed who stated outright they agreed with closed meetings.

She said the board of director’s needs must be respected.

“I feel like this position was made to not put extra pressure on students, and to give you some insight and a look into what the business and professional world can be like,” he said. “To make it the most comfortable for the students is clearly ideal.

“You don’t want to stress them out every month to the point where they don’t even want to show up anymore,” Stafford said. “Me, personally, I feel like media doesn’t need to be there, because I get that it does get more difficult in front of a camera.”

Transparency is not the only hot-button issue, as each candidate has different platform points central to their campaign.

Kediva, like many of the international candidates, including Hentschke and Keithtian Green from North campus, wants to put more emphasis on the international students at Humber.

He said many students have financial concerns and feel as if they are left out of IGNITE’s current setup.

Stafford said he wants to continue the work he feels he started as vice president by providing the best experience for every student.

“I think during my time we saw what students really like and what they’re iffy about,” he said. “So, with that knowledge and my program, I’ll be able to bring the best value to Humber.”

Hentschke is advocating for a stronger focus on sustainability, educating students and working with IGNITE on making their events more environmentally friendly.

Khannanova said she wanted to use what she has learned during her time at Humber to make IGNITE’s events bigger and better, while also shining a light on health support for students.

“I am diabetic and have been going through tough times since last fall,” she said. “I had 12 hypoglycemic attacks over three months, and it was a really tricky time for me. 

“But I was very supported by Humber and want to make that help an important part of IGNITE, too, because there are many students with health concerns and not everyone knows how to handle them,” Khannanova said.

Students at the Lakeshore campus have until Friday to vote in the IGNITE election at either the AB Café or L Café.