No candidate forum for next IGNITE election

by | Feb 19, 2020 | Campus News, Guelph-Humber, Headlines, IGNITE, Lakeshore, News, North

Jared Dodds, News Reporter

IGNITE’s 2020 election was already set to be significant, as it will be the first-time candidates are only eligible to run for positions on the board of directors.

But students will have to prepare for more changes in this voting season, as a mainstay of years past appears to be heading to the wayside.

For the first time IGNITE will not host a candidate forum.

The change was first noticed by Eli Ridder, a first-year journalism student and potential candidate for IGNITE’s board of directors.

“My first reaction was I was pretty disappointed,” Ridder said. “Almost any other election there’s a debate, whether you’re running for city council or even a school trustee, there’s always at least one. Debate is essential for democracy.”

Ridder noticed there was no forum on the list of important events included in the nomination packet and inferred there were no plans to host such an event this year.

In past years IGNITE has hosted these forums for students to get to know the candidate’s platforms and hear them talk about the issues.

The events were also recorded and posted for voters who could not be present to watch.

When IGNITE was asked to clarify if plans for an event existed, they confirmed they had no plans to host a forum.

“This year, IGNITE is strongly encouraging candidates to focus on peer-to-peer conversations and outreach, emphasizing the importance of meaningfully connecting with students,” said Emmaline Scharbach, communications coordinator for IGNITE, in an email to reporters.

Ercole Perrone, the executive director of IGNITE, said the decision to eliminate the forums was made based on exit interviews with candidates from previous elections.

“Part of the constant feedback we get is that our election period, from nominations to end of voting, is pretty demanding on their time,” Perrone said. “When it comes to the forums in particular, I think attendance hasn’t always been great in terms of the candidates, let alone students at large.”

He said IGNITE is looking to modernize the election process at Humber, floating ideas like livestreams featuring the candidates to better entice a younger electorate.

Perrone said they had not advertised any of these potential methods because they wanted to wait until they had a confirmed number of candidates on Friday.

Confirmation for candidates involves Humber affirming the candidate meets the academic requirements for running, all while IGNITE verifies they have secured the requisite number of signatures needed to run.

Ridder said he is encouraged by the prospect of IGNITE holding other events leading up to the election, but losing the forum will create a void nothing will be able to fill.

“I think it’s critical to have a forum to have something on the record, which is important for students,” he said. “I understand debates aren’t well attended even for adults, but I think they’re still important to have.”

Campaigning for the election begins on March 2.