Black Clubs Caucus receives one response to open letter

Student organization continuing advocacy work at Queen’s

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
The caucus meets in Robert Sutherland Hall because of its symbolism.

The Black Student Club Caucus has received one follow-up on their open letter from a sitting member of AMS Assembly in the aftermath of the last AMS Assembly.

The Tuesday before Assembly, the caucus met for three-to-four hours to write the letter, which was then posted on their Instagram page. The letter responded to the AMS executive debate incident and included four requests, which every Black club except Smith Black Business signed off on.

So far, the caucus has received one response from the President of the Health Sciences Society (HSS) Haleigh Schreyer, according to Amaiya Walters, ArtSci ’23, the main organizer of the caucus.

“I think it’d be safe to say we’re all really disappointed from the lack of response,” Walters said in an interview with The Journal.

“This is something that, at least obviously for me, feels like a priority, and so it’s just been really disheartening that we haven’t received any even acknowledgement, honestly, of our attendance, of our statement, of our requests.”

Walters said the caucus emailed the letter to everybody who sits on Assembly about 30 minutes before Assembly started. The caucus asked several questions of the AMS executive during Assembly.

“I asked Amir-Ali [Golrokhian-Sani], secretary of internal affairs, if it could be a discussion point and he said no,” Walters said. “He asked that I ask during the question section, which did really limit the time we were given.”

Having the caucus as its own discussion point would have resulted in a more productive conversation, Walters said. She said Assembly was very tense for the students attending.

“When there’s 15 to 20 Black students sitting at the back of Assembly—which never happens—and people just proceed like normal, it just feels really insensitive.”

AMS President Eric Sikich said he didn’t have a chance to read the caucus’ requests at Assembly. Walters said it’s important to recognize they were summarized at the bottom of the letter.

“I don’t know [why] it doesn’t seem to be a priority right now. I guess I don’t know what people’s intentions are,” she said.

Walters said the caucus would have appreciated an acknowledgement from non-Black members of Assembly who were in attendance.

Before giving her report, Chair of the Board of Directors Laura Devenny recognized the caucus’ presence and acknowledged their feedback, which Walters said caucus members appreciated.

Walters said the caucus is interested in being a central place for Black students to do leadership work and understand what projects similarly-situated clubs are undertaking.

The caucus is a roundtable discussion where any club representatives can talk about what they’re doing. Walters said clubs can propose collaborative ideas with others.

Stephanie Simpson, associate vice-principal (human rights, equity, and inclusion) hired Walters this past summer out of the Queen’s Human Rights Equity office.

“I basically proposed the idea of having a Black Club Caucus that meets regularly, once a month, to chat about club events and mobilize, if necessary, about issues pertaining to Black students on campus,” Walters said.

From there, Walters met with every single Black club to talk about their mandate, their goals, struggles, and how they could be supported by an external body.

For Walters, it’s especially important to mobilize the caucus since it allows more engagement across different faculties and years.

Walters said non-Black students can express their support and allyship by re-posting the caucus’ content on social media, reaching out to Black peers, and having conversations in their own spaces.

“Uplifting Black voices is such a general term, but truly doing whatever people can [do] within their positionality, within the privileges they have, and advocating for us [is important.]”

Currently, the caucus is running a sticker campaign to try and raise awareness for Robert Sutherland, a Queen’s alumnus and the first known university student and graduate of colour in Canada. He was also British North America’s first known Black lawyer.

“[He] was a really influential Black person here at Queen’s who was not given the credit he deserves,” Walters said.

“We have our Black Club Caucus meetings in Robert Sutherland Hall because it’s a beautiful room and honestly, for symbolism. That’s why I chose the building.”


AMS Assembly, anti-Black, Black clubs caucus, ETC, hss, racism

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