AMS Sustainability Action Fund held back $22,000 for months despite multiple requests

Lockridge says AMS has “had trouble” organizing granting committee

The Society for Conservation Biology's bee garden, which opened this September.

According to several members of different clubs on campus and in Kingston as well, the AMS Sustainability Action Fund has been held back for months. Despite repeated requests and inquiries related to its distribution, none of the $22,000 fund has been allocated to clubs.

Traditionally managed by the Commission on Environmental Affairs (CEA), the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) has provided support for both AMS and non-AMS sanctioned clubs that work on sustainability projects. This year, the fund collected $22,000 from its $3.00 opt-out student fee. 

After the CEA was disbanded in January of 2017, responsibility to distribute the SAF fell to the AMS Vice President (University Affairs). 

Zoe Walter, former Vice President for the Society of Conservation Biology, told The Journal her team applied to the SAF for $1,000 back in July. 

“We got the application in on time and it was supposed to be allocated in July, it never was,” Walters said. “They never granted the summer period.” 

After she was unable to access the fund, Walter said her repeated email requests for inquiry were ignored throughout the summer. 

In July, Walter sought funds for a bee garden project which has since been completed outside of the Biosciences Complex. She said the Society of Conservation Biology wanted “to make a green space on campus that was friendly to pollinators.” 

“Because we never got the funding, we looked for other ways to get it — we fundraised most of it ourselves,” Walter said.

According to a conversation she had with the AMS at the beginning of September, Walter was told the SAF would be allocated by the end of frosh week. Again, this never happened, meaning both the summer and fall grants went unallocated. 

“I think this goes to show that you need to have a dedicated sustainability commission because obviously they aren’t able to handle the allocation of the SAF on top of their other duties,” Walter said of the AMS.

Walter argued that under the AMS' final CEA commissioner Liam Dowling, the SAF was allocated for the whole year on time along with feedback for those who weren’t granted the funds. 

“It always got done on time because he was a dedicated person doing it and they had a dedicated Environmental Affairs Commission,” Walter said.

Walter isn’t the only club representative frustrated with SAF’s lack of allocation this year. Arthur Cockfield, business manager for Queen’s Solar Design Team, told The Journal his club had similar problems accessing the fund this year. 

Formerly involved with the Hyperloop design team, Cockfield said that in past years he faced no delays in accessing the fund when it was administered through the CEA. He said this year’s process would “benefit from more transparency” so students have a clear idea of where funds are allocated. 

When asked about delays in SAF’s allocation, AMS Vice President (University Affairs) Palmer Lockridge told The Journal, “we’ve had a little bit of trouble getting our granting committee together.”

“It’s one of the only granting committees that has faculty representation and staff representation from the University,” Lockridge explained. “The faculty member sitting on the committee had gone on sabbatical and otherwise we’re just trying to fit a bunch of other student schedules and faculty and staff schedules together to get the meeting going.”

Lockridge said finding a replacement faculty member to sit on the committee was “a difficult process.” Despite difficulties, a replacement was found in October, but funds still weren’t allocated.

“I wanted to make sure the committee had the full opportunity to have a debate and discussion on what we’re granting,” Lockridge said. “It’s going to be $17,000 in this period and it's $22,000 across the year, so I think in any year you would want the committee to have a full discussion and make sure the funds are where they should be.”

Lockridge said he expects granting decisions to come out next week.

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