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Published on October 18, 2016 | by Rob Jowett     Photography by Danielle Tocher

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Humber Students’ Federation Rebrand Ignites Controversy

There is a vote on Oct. 19 to determine the future of Ignite, the new brand adopted this year by the Humber Students’ Federation (HSF). The rebrand has created a whirlwind of controversy, with students demanding answers about how the organization spent $400,000 to create the brand Ignite.

Ignite was unveiled at the start of the 2016-17 school year. According to Ignite executives, it was intended to expand on the services provided by HSF, and to make University of Guelph-Humber students feel more included.

Ignite, which is responsible for services ranging from bursaries to the dental clinic, also wanted to differentiate from Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber on campus to make the groups role clearer to students.

However, a lot of student reaction has been more negative, and many students attending recent Ignite events were upset. There has been video of Ignite members attacking journalists and using offensive language at Ignite events, while students are often passionate and angry about the issue. At the Special Meeting of the Members, where the vote will take place, Ignite plans to release a full financial statement detailing how it spent its money.

The central issue that students have drawn attention to is the cost of the rebrand. According to the Ignite Operating Budget 2016-17, $400,000 was allocated for the brand. That came from an account called the Capital budget, which only covers rebranding and general leasehold.

“None of the funds that students paid this year went into rebranding the organization,” says Ignite president Ahmed Tahir. He explains that the Capital budget came from surpluses that have been built up from small budget surpluses from the past sixteen years. He says this is due to great money management and slowly decreasing the cost of running the organization.

Not everyone accepts this answer. Former HSF vice president Mikki Decker says that the surpluses are due to services that students have not taken advantage of, such as dental plans and bursaries. She ran for HSF president with a platform of internal austerity, saying that a rebrand could be accomplished without spending so much money.

Another issue is the brand itself. The fact that the name Ignite has no direct connection with Humber College or The University of Guelph-Humber was a deliberate decision, says Ammar Abdul-Raheem, vice president of Student Life North. “I much prefer a name like Ignite,” he says, “It’s so good because people are now coming up and asking, ‘what is Ignite all about?’”

Tahir agrees the disassociation from Humber allows it to stand out on campus. He says Ignite is not worried about sharing the name with other organizations, as they only want to be unique at Humber.

For now, Tahir says that Ignite has only spent around $160,000 on the rebrand, mainly to hire a firm to create the brand. However, there are still a lot of costs to be paid out, especially in renovating the school to replace HSF signs to Ignite, as will all documents and letterheads needing to be changed. As well, there have been a series of other costs such as the large neon sign near the office.

The Oct. 19 meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Student Centre on North campus and K Building at Lakeshore.


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