Law student wins Tricolour award

Erin Smith recognized for her contributions to equity on campus

Erin Smith, JD and MBA ’12, will be receiving the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award this spring for her significant contribution to the community in a non-athletic and non-academic way.
Erin Smith, JD and MBA ’12, will be receiving the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award this spring for her significant contribution to the community in a non-athletic and non-academic way.
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For the second time in its history, the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award has been given to one student.

Erin Smith, JD and MBA '12, will receive the award in a ceremony this spring.

The award is given annually to students who have made a significant contribution to the community in a non-athletic and non-academic way.

The first stand-alone winner of the Tricolour Award was Michele Romanow, Sci ’07, who founded the Tea Room in her second year and received the award in her final year of study.

The award usually recognizes several students but this year the selection committee unanimously chose Smith because of her profound impact on equity at Queen’s.

“We were not under the impression that we had to give out a certain number of awards. The bar is set really high for the award and she is the only one who reached that bar,” Rector Nick Francis said.

“She put in foundations that the [selection] committee felt would extend past her time at Queen’s. Her work will benefit all students in the long run, it’s not just the law school,” Francis said.

The Rector chairs the selection committee, which consists of 16 student representatives from all faculty societies. Smith’s passion for equity issues led her to spearhead various campaigns that affect students across all faculties.

She said her most prominent contribution to equity at Queen’s is with her work under the Equity Committee under the Law Student’s Society. Smith is currently the third-year co-commissioner of the committee.

In this role, Smith has implemented Positive Space training and office hours, the Campus and Community Fair, the Equity Survey and the Sober Socializing Initiative.

“The Sober Socializing Initiative started this year and was the idea of my co-commissioner. It’s for people who want to hold events that aren't alcohol-focused,” she said.

The Equity Committee has teamed up with various groups on campus for this initiative, including the Human Rights Club to help with the logistics, promotion, and funding of events that do not revolve around alcohol.

In order to provide better service and respond better to the needs of the Queen’s law students, Smith created the Equity Survey, which will gauge what the main issues in the law school are and how students would like to improve them.

After completing her undergraduate degree at McGill University, Smith noticed a difference in campus culture upon arriving at Queen’s University for law school.

“I was struck by the less-open culture here than I found at McGill and surprised by, perhaps, the conservatism and attitudes that were present at Queen’s, particularly in the law school,” Smith said.

“It’s no secret that Queen’s has had some equity-related problems,” Smith said.

Smith said she took initiative to try and change things.

“Everyone should be comfortable being who they are and shouldn’t be afraid to be who they. We should try to create an environment where that is true.”

Originally established as the Tricolour Award in 1939, the award was later renamed the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award after Dr. Agnes Benidickson, the first female chancellor of Queen’s University from 1980 to 1996.

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