Student equity plans released

Daniella Dávila, AMS social issues commissioner, says institutionalizing equity is a main goal of the AMS equity plan.
Daniella Dávila, AMS social issues commissioner, says institutionalizing equity is a main goal of the AMS equity plan.

Equity is being made a priority for next year by both the AMS and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS). Both student governments have finalized equity action plans for the 2010-11 academic year.

Daniellla Dávila, AMS social issues commissioner, said the AMS equity plan is a strategic action plan meant to provide an overview of the goals of the Social Issues Commission (SIC). The plan includes internal and external initiatives, but the main goal is to raise awareness about equity and anti-oppression. Internal strategies are those relating to the functioning of the AMS, whereas external aims relate to campus at large. Externally, Davila said the plan focuses on outreach to students through the creation of the Anti-Oppression Seminar Series, as well as the SIC newsletter.

The plan also provides for other groups on campus by encouraging them to work with the SIC.

“We hope to branch out and work together with other organizations and clubs that do equity work, one of them being the SGPS office,” she said. “Planning an event, every group on campus has different resources in regards to ant-oppression issues. By working together we can help each other.”

Dávila said one internal aim requires that equity be institutionalized in every AMS portfolio.

This would mean that each service and commission would be required to include equity in their annual strategic plan.

Dávila said the SIC already provides equity and anti-oppression training to the commissioners as well as any groups who request it. In order to fulfill the goals of the 2010-11 equity plan, the next step would be to provide training to other levels of management including commissioners, the offices of all AMS extended council, managers and head managers of services as well as all service staff.

“That would mean that everyone working within the AMS would benefit from this,” she said, adding that the next goal is to train people who are returning to the SIC next year to give anti-oppression sessions.

Dávila said only the SIC deputies will be provided with training to conduct anti-oppressions sessions as they are well-versed in the issues and are familiar with the concepts included in the training. Since May, 10 workshops have been provided to AMS management directly, but Dávila said that number increases every year. This is due to increased advertisement and changes in the structure of the workshops.

“It’s a lot more accessible. Case studies more related to what people do in the services,” she said.

Dávila said the equity plan, the first of its kind, was based on her strategic plan as commissioner written in May.

“Strategic plans are done every single year. The social issue commissioner does one at the beginning of the summer,” she said. “Every plan is based on the previous one so there are still things carried over. I borrowed things from both the year before and two years ago. I wrote the strategic plan first and in meeting with Adnan Hussain [Chair of Diversity and Equity Taskforce (DET)] and Carolyn Prouse [SGPS Equity Commissioner], we decided it would be a good initiative to have them up on the website.

Both the AMS and SGPS equity plans were working documents as of December, posted on the DET website.” Dávila said in writing the plan she made it as specific as possible to the AMS as opposed to other student organizations.

“In writing the AMS equity plan, I thought specifically about the structure of the AMS … due to the differences in the structure of the student governments, as well as the populations of students they represent, some of the strategies to achieve our goals are different,” she said.

Prouse said the SGPS equity plan also points to training as a vehicle for improvement.

SGPS employees have undergone mandatory equity training for this year, but Prouse said that prior to this plan, nothing ensured there would be mandatory training next year. As part of the plan, equity training will be written into SGPS policy, which Prouse will be working on for the remainder of the term. Training will be provided collaboratively with the Human Rights Office (HRO), Prouse said.

As well as implementing mandatory training, the SGPS equity plan calls for a campaign to fight against accent discrimination.

“We want to get a good conversation on campus. We have a lot of TAs with our organization who have experienced discrimination based on accent. We need to redefine how we understand an accent,” She said, adding that the SGPS will be working with the HRO and Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) on the campaign.

“We’re at the very initial stages. It’s a long-term campaign,” she said.

The campaign will include online educational component in conjunction with campus outreach through posters.

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