By Justin Field
Natural light flowed into the student centre at Lakeshore’s K building from large glass windows as the snow fell lazily outside. A tech crew ran around trying to get everything ready, while IGNITE employees greeted each other with hellos and hugs, the back of their sweaters plastered with STAFF in big block letters. They made up the majority of people in the room.
What the room was missing were students, even though this election seems to hold more importance than others in the past. Proposed government cuts to OSAP are a concern to students, and making student union fees optional threaten the livelihood of many unions across the province. But Lakeshore students did not come out in droves to voice their concerns.
IGNITE held what they call an “Elections Mix & Mingle” on Wednesday, in order for students to gain an informed opinion on the candidates and the election issues. The event also allowed students to ask the candidates questions about their platforms.
Three rows of comfortable chairs and couches were set up, and a big screen with IGNITE ELECTION plastered on it sat behind two tall chairs separated by a square table. With the election cycle now in full swing, students are left with less than two weeks to make an informed decision on candidates.
The first part of the event was the presidential mix & mingle, which saw the two candidates discussing some of the major election issues. Current IGNITE president Monica Khosla is running for re-election, against her only opponent, current Lakeshore Campus board of directors member Margarita Bader. Khosla and Bader opened the event by answering questions posed by a moderator, and later answered questions from students themselves. These questions concerned issues like the Ford government’s cuts to OSAP, and campus mental health.
The Lakeshore election is also seeing several new faces, as Lakeshore’s current vice president Graham Budgeon is not running for re-election. Ryan Stafford and Ostap Pavliuk are picking up where the current IGNITE administration left off, trying to get new blood in the executive office.
Pavliuk, a third year business administration student, has prior experience in elections, having ran in for board of directors last year. Stafford, also a third year business administration student, studies at Guelph-Humber is a political newbie, running in his first IGNITE election this year. The board of directors also has three new candidates, Asiya Awan, Camila Ruiz Tacha and Stephanie Fallico, who are all running unopposed.
Stafford and Pavliuk were no shows to the meet and greet, and only one candidate for board of directors, Asiya Awan, was present.
To start, the event was marred with technical difficulties, as Khosla was skyping in from the North Campus. Her microphone feed kept cutting out, and none of the answers were audible. People at Lakeshore were only able to hear Bader’s responses.
Current IGNITE president, Monica Khosla appears onscreen at the Lakeshore campus as she runs for re-election
But an IGNITE livestream of the event has made it possible for Khosla’s answers to be heard online.
One message that remained clear, despite the technical difficulties, was Khosla intends to continue her work as president. “My work is not done,” she said, one of the few strings of words that came through coherently on the screen.
Khosla touched on the some issues she thought were important, saying that Humber needs to “build a framework on some of the core skills students should be leaving with no matter what their program is, and no matter if they’re in college or university”.
There were several issues brought up during the Q&A, including financial security for students, developing skills, and improving academic and overall student experience. “It’s not what we want, it’s what the students want. It’s what the students voices are saying, and it’s up to leaders like myself to make sure those voices are being heard”, Bader said.
After the presidential mix & mingle, IGNITE held a meet and greet for students to come meet and talk to their candidates, but at Lakeshore campus, there were not many candidates to meet.
Only a handful of people remained behind for the meet and greet, even though IGNITE was offering free food. The room, now relatively empty, the sound of soft chatter coming from the few stragglers who remained behind. Despite the low turnout, they still served waffles.