IGNITE ELECTION: UGH candidates say community, listening to students are key issues, not transparency

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Guelph-Humber, Headlines, IGNITE, News

Jared Dodds, News Reporter

None of the candidates from the University of Guelph-Humber running for IGNITE’s Board of Directors are advocating opening board meetings to the public.

This differs from platforms of candidates at other campuses, some of whom are listing open board meetings as a priority in their campaign.

Four candidates are running for the two positions available to Guelph-Humber.

The candidates include Stefan Thomas, Damen Bell, and Megan Roopnarine. Alessandra Giorgi could not be reached for comment.

Stefan Thomas is running in 2020 for a post on the IGNITE Board of Directors to represent students at the University of Guelph-Humber. (Jared Dodds)

Thomas, a third-year Family and Community Social Services student, said he wanted to get elected and learn more before he decides about opening board meetings.

“Because I don’t know the insides of IGNITE, because I’ve never been on a board before, I don’t want to be arrogant and say let’s change it,” he said. “I want to wait until I’m elected and get a better understanding of why IGNITE changed.”

Roopnarine, a third-year Media Studies student and current vice-president of IGNITE, took a similar stance, wanting students to understand these meetings require a certain amount of understanding and aptitude.

Media Studies student and incumbent UGH Vice President Megan Roopnarine. (IGNITE)

“I think there’s a certain element of understanding what goes on during these board of director meetings in terms of how high level it can be and having these really important conversations that can’t have a filter all the time,” she said.

Bell, a first-year Media Studies student, was less receptive to ever opening up the meetings, opting instead to come forward once discussions have ended.

“If people were there, especially the media, it can be distracting to the board,” he said. “Having hard conversations, there’s going to be opinions from everybody, so I think it’s better to have those conversations, and then come forward with one opinion.”

First-year Media Studies student Damen Bell. (IGNITE)

In the absence of a hard stance on transparency, the candidates are all running on platforms focused on the Humber community.

Thomas has a focus on accessibility, looking to continue the work done by current two-term IGNITE President Monica Khosla.

“I know our campuses are kind of accessible, but there are still areas that are lacking,” he said. “For some people, it’s not big because they don’t deal with it. But when you see people in that position every day, you think about what you can do to make life better for them.”

Bell said he would advocate for more leadership opportunities on campus, including workshops to better prepare students for life at Humber and beyond.

“They’re really good skills to have going into jobs, or even in group work,” he said. “They help create a positive way to get going and be a leader.”

Roopnarine said she’s focused on continuing the work she put in as vice-president while hearing from students what they want to be done.

“With the experience I was able to get from even from campaigning, I could learn what people are talking about and looking for, and what they want to see from their student union,” she said.

Roopnarine said she wants to help students understand what the board is responsible for, and discovering these differences was part of what made her run.

“I really enjoyed working with IGNITE, and I really wanted to explore what this role on the board of directors was and how it could help shape IGNITE as an organization and shape the community at Guelph Humber,” she said.

Other candidates chose to run for similar reasons, with Bell also wanting to grow on his previous experience with IGNITE.

“So, I worked with IGNITE, I was a promotions assistant, and I would try and provide as much input as I could in the meeting about what students wanted, but that wasn’t my job,” he said. “I wanted to be the one to create ideas and push them forward.”

Thomas said he wanted to take the knowledge he gained from his program and apply it to help as many students as possible.

“You have to know how to advocate on behalf of students, and I feel like being in my program, especially in my third year, that’s something I can do naturally,” he said.

“I felt like I had that ability, and I naturally already tried to advocate for students before I had this role, I thought why not actually go for it and try and make that positive change,” Thomas said.

Students at Guelph-Humber have until Friday to cast their ballot on the second floor near the elevators.