#HumberTogether: For the first two weeks of March leading up to the anniversary of campus closures due to COVID-19, Humber Today will publish stories showcasing the exceptional efforts of various departments, clubs and individuals over the last 365 days as part of a #HumberTogether Series.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started to affect students, Humber College’s student union IGNITE acted fast. In March of 2020, the group contributed $250,000 to support Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber students through its COVID-19 Relief Fund, then matched it in May.
The student government also contributed $50,000 toward its annual student financial relief program, allocating $200,000 to international student bursaries.
Again, in January, IGNITE matched its May contribution of $250,000 to the Humber Covid-19 Relief Fund in support of students during the second large lockdown.
“We want students to know that IGNITE is here for them. There’s so much we’re doing to provide them a great college experience,” said Camila Ruiz Tacha, IGNITE’s student engagement coordinator for Humber’s North Campus.
One of the latest initiatives, the Learning Essentials Support program, was in development prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but came together at just the right time. The program was launched in partnership with Humber College’s Advancement and Alumni department and provides students with funds for program-specific tools and resources.
Ruiz Tacha, one of the project leads, says Learning Essentials Support is already expanding to respond to student need.
“We launched in September and found a lot of students were reaching out to to let us know their courses were not on the list. We did a lot of advocating, researching and reaching out to faculty about program requirements and were able to add five more programs to our list for the winter semester,” she said.
Ruiz Tacha encourages any students who require support and whose programs are not listed as eligible to get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
IGNITE continues to deliver former on-site services like menstruation kits and self-care kits by mail. This term, the group added a winter survival kit to the mailing list.
“They had blankets, hot chocolate, a mug, gloves and a hat. We got a lot of great feedback from that,” said Ruiz Tacha.
IGNITE also provided winter jackets for the winners of the Warm up Your Winter contest, open to international students experiencing their first winter in Canada.
Ruiz Tacha and her colleague Julia Ciampa, the student engagement coordinator for Guelph-Humber, were both hired after Humber campuses closed in March.
“We’re told that it was such a different environment, but we were even interviewed online. IGNITE had to make a quick switch to the work-from-home situation. With our own services transitioning online, so did our supports for staff,” said Ciampa.
IGNITE staff participated in virtual empathy, team-building and mental health workshops.
“It’s great for us to be able to get together and actually meet as a team,” she said.
Most of the group is spread out across the province, with one staff member living in the United States. From time zones, to juggling multiple jobs, to changes in childcare, IGNITE staff are experiencing the same challenges as their fellow students.
Learn more about how they support their peers at ignitestudentlife.com.