Gender struck from AMS applications

AMS removes gender requirement for applicants to volunteer and service positions

AMS assembly approved a motion to strike gender identity questions from AMS applications last night, following concerns over the question’s legality.

Board of Directors member-at-large Kathie Beers said she was worried about the AMS requiring applicants to AMS service and volunteer positions to give their gender, student number and international status and brought this up at the Nov. 18 Board of Directors meeting.

“I was simply asking from a Human Resources perspective, we have strict guidelines on what we can and can’t ask,” Beers said. “It’s an issue of collection and violation of privacy; I wanted to be sure that we weren’t violating provincial and federal legislation.”

Ben Hartley, AMS vice-president (operations), said the AMS can ask for an applicant’s gender identity, student number and international status by law. “We are legally allowed to [ask the questions]. It’s a question of whether or not we want to,” Hartley, ArtSci ’11, said.

Other questions typically asked on AMS applications for service and volunteer positions concern a student’s degree program, email, address, academic standing and credit enrollment.

“These are to ensure that you are allowed to work [or volunteer] for the AMS,” Hartley said.

In order to qualify for an AMS position applications state that you must be in good academic standing as defined by your program and you must be registered in a minimum of 2.0 credits for salary positions and 3.0 credits for volunteer or part-time positions.

Hartley said that the AMS wanted to remove the requirement on applications for students to identify their gender because of ongoing concerns amongst students who didn’t feel that the identifier was necessary.

“It’s coming up as internal review the initiative was done through the AMS’s Human Resources Office,” Hartley said.

For certain services, such as Walkhome and Student Constables, removing gender from applications could make the hiring process more difficult. Walkhome requires each team to have both a male and female member of staff on walking teams, and the Student Constables do not allow males to frisk females. Hartley said that for Walkhome, the question regarding gender will remain on the application, but for Student Constables, the question will be removed.

“In the 2004 to 2005 academic year, the AMS decided to add the ‘prefers not to identify’ box to AMS applications,” Hartley said. This was done in order to ensure that applicants didn’t feel pressured to choose a gender if they didn’t identify with a particular one. “This choice will remain on the Walkhome applications,” Hartley said.

The AMS is also in the process of re-evaluating the use of student numbers on applications.

“Our intention [instead] is to develop a tracking system for both employees and volunteers [of the AMS.] It’s historically been a problem because the main issue with student numbers is the storage of information,” Hartley said.

At AMS Assembly last night, the motion to remove student numbers from AMS applications was also passed following privacy concerns.

Access to student numbers can expose students to risk because of personal information they’re tied to. Though there haven’t ever been security breaches because of access to student numbers, Hartley said the AMS wants to move away from them.

“We don’t feel comfortable storing student numbers [anymore],” Hartley said. “Instead, we hope to use employee numbers and develop a similar numerical system for volunteers within the AMS.”

Hartley said that for now, student numbers will remain on AMS applications, until the details about the new tracking system pan out.

The AMS’s policy towards international students will remain the same. Currently, AMS applications require students to identify whether or not they are an international student because a certain percentage of service jobs are guaranteed for them.

“We hold a certain number of jobs for international students in the fall because they can’t apply in the winter. [The question on the application] ensures that these students get this consideration,” Hartley said. “Their international student status allows them to be employed on campus, so we need to make sure that there are sufficient opportunities for them to have campus employment.”

The changes to the AMS applications will not come into effect until next year’s hiring period, and Hartley said the changes will not have any effect on the efficiency of AMS services.

“It’s a long term project,” Hartley said. “We expect that it will be completed by the end of our term, but it’s something that we will keep pushing for in the future.”

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