Campus developmental organizations uniting

After spending part of the summer volunteering at a rural school in Ghana, Lindsay Groves and Katie McCracken, both ArtSci ’06, came back to Queen’s looking for ways to help the school reduce tuition, provide busing for students and build a library.

In September, Groves and McCracken found their outlet by taking on leadership roles within African Youth Initiative (AYI), an on-campus development organization, to continue raising money for the school. Now they are hoping to spread awareness of education issues in Africa.

AYI is one of at least nine campus development organizations that have recently united to form the Queen’s Development Organizations Council (QDOC).

“It’s definitely important that there’s a certain awareness for certain issues,” McCracken said. “[Through QDOC] there’s a larger force at play that can mobilize action through different channels.” QDOC member groups included AYI, WaterCan, War Child, the Canadian Youth Alliance, Oxfam, QPID, Journalists for Human Rights, DSC representatives from the DEVS department and the coordinator of February’s International Development Week, which raises development awareness on campus.

Carlos Paz-Soldan, Sci ’07, Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID) general director, said the idea of QDOC—an umbrella organization that unites the many development-oriented organizations on campus on a regular basis—is one which has been discussed before, but which nobody took the initiative to organize.

In October, AYI president Nick Barber, ArtSci ’06, and WaterCan@Queen’s chair Jenn Haines, ArtSci ’06, approached AMS Social Issues Commissioner Jennifer Holub to make the goal a reality.

“I thought about flaws in the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] system—NGOs often compete for funding,” Barber said. “I wanted to avoid this on campus.” According to QDOC’s first press release, organizing a forum through which groups can share information will ensure that the efforts of each club are focused on their true goal, rather than competing with others.

Holub told the Journal that at QDOC’s first meeting, members emphasized the council will in no way infringe upon the individuality of each group, but instead facilitate cooperation and cohesiveness between efforts.

“We want representatives from each group to share information [and] team up where they would like to,” Holub said. “But we value very much the different roles that organizations take on.”

The QDOC organizers highlighted two main reasons for needing to share information.

Some organizations that are now a part of QDOC have been around campus for many years, so they can help provide resources and advice to new organizations and clubs. Additionally, groups can coordinate efforts, or at least make sure that events don’t conflict with each other.

“QDOC is basically just a forum for clubs to discuss with each other,” Barber told the Journal.

Organizers also emphasized the threat of an international disaster that would call for the groups to team up to help fundraise for emergency relief. By working together, groups involved in QDOC could raise more awareness, reach more people and better address the humanitarian concerns resulting from the emergency than if they had been working individually.

“Collectively we can make a difference, within Queen’s and the global environment, by creating this large network to fight against social injustice and hence lead towards global change,” Haines said in the release.

Haines told the Journal QDOC’s first meeting was welcomed by the groups as a much-needed event.

“There was a consensus among us [at the first meeting] that it should have happened already,” she said.

Holub said that potential QDOC involvement in International Development week, in the form of a social event for members and volunteers of all Queen’s development organizations or a guest speaker, was a topic of discussion at the meeting.

Barber added that QDOC will allow Clubs Night to run more effectively for the development groups through increased coordination between them.

“It’s not always easy to figure out how clubs differentiate from one another,” he said.

The founders and members of QDOC said they hope to see the union last beyond this year, with the Social Issues Commissioner being formally instated as its facilitator.

“We’d like to formalize this collective in the sense that it’s something that happens year after year,” Holub said.

Groves said she thinks if all the organizations work together, they will learn more about each other’s work.

“[It’s about] getting more awareness about political [and] educational problems [and] raising awareness so that people can get involved.”

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