The Case for Open Board Meetings

Let’s put the student back into the union.

Open Board of Director Meetings are critical to a healthy, democratic student union and are considered a cornerstone to the function of such organizations across the continent.

This page lays out the argument, research and conclusions for why this is the case in brief and long versions.


Brief

Open board meetings are important for IGNITE because they:

  • allow for transparency and, therefore, a healthy student democracy;
  • follow the norm that has been set by student unions across the continent;
  • the switch to closed meetings was done at a secret meeting.

What will happen if we have open board meetings:

Because it is legally allowable, choosing to have an open, democratic student union is solely a decision of what kind of leaders we want to be.


Long

In the fall of 2019, IGNITE started down a new path of closing itself off from the student body, going against the values it held only a few months earlier and moving away from the democratic institutions that student unions were designed and have been since before we were born.

The main person communicating with the public on this was CEO Ercole Perrone — not an elected official and not a member of the democratically-elected board of directors that should have the power in this decision-making process.

In a story called “IGNITE proposes new governance rules for Jan. 16” in the Nov. 15, 2019 issue, the Et Cetera reported:

He said they are moving away from the open government approach which students often mistake them for having.

Student will still have a say in who speaks for them, but will not necessarily have the privilege of presence in board meetings.

They don’t have the privileges of having full access to their meetings. Students may request to attend but ultimately the board can decide to admit them, he said.

What qualifies students to be a part of these meetings is unclear.

“The intent is to move towards a more formalized non-profit organi- zation style way to work, which is to say meetings with the board of di- rectors and guests the board wants to hear from,” Perrone said.

Later in the same article:

Humber College executives hold some skepticism. Jason Hunter, vice-president of Humber College, Student and Community Engage- ment, said he has never worked with a student government who has taken this approach before and is going forward with an open mind.

There are four major things we learned here:

  1. Perrone openly acknowledges that the student union is moving from one state (open democratic student union) to another (a more closed, corporate entity).
  2. Perrone is doing the speaking here and not the democratically-elected representatives of the student union that are making the decision.

Media at Board Meetings

A free press is critical to an open democracy. Perrone has often claimed that he is against journalism students being at board of directors meetings because IGNITE does not exist to feed journalism students content.

This is not what reporters do.

Reporters at Ryerson University, at the University of British Columbia, at the University of Ottawa and so many others in recent history have unveiled and revealed to the public fraud, dishonesty and