ASUS hires first equity & sustainability director

New director to bring “society-wide” change to ASUS operations

Equity and Sustainability Director to improve internal policies, procedures, and practices at the Society.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

ASUS has hired four new positions for the 2020-21 year, including the first equity and sustainability director (ESD), Caitlin Hayes.

Incoming ASUS President David Niddam-Dent and incoming ASUS Vice-President Matt D’Alessandro had emphasized improvement to internal functions of the Society during their campaign in January. Now, they are breaking ground on those ideas by hiring individuals specifically tasked with refining current ASUS operations to support the organization’s long-term growth.

As ESD, Hayes, ArtSci ’22, will be responsible for making ASUS' internal policies, procedures, and practices more equitable and more sustainable. 

“[I]mprovements will include land acknowledgements, hiring practices, and a host of sustainability efforts designed to improve the Society from top to bottom, pursued in collaboration with groups on campus, the University, and community organizations,” Niddam-Dent wrote in a statement to The Journal. “[W]e hope the Equity and Sustainability Director will begin fundamental, society-wide change that lasts well into the future.”

Hayes will work from within the executive office, with support from the equity commissioner, to collaborate with the eight other commissions and offices across the Society to improve the internal functions of ASUS, especially regarding internal equity and sustainability practices. 

By focusing on internal improvements that will adapt the Society to better practices of social and environmental justice, D’Alessandro said the ESD will free up the equity commissioner to focus more on advocacy work with members of their commission and the University community.

The idea of the ESD stemmed from numerous consultation meetings, including discussions with the outgoing ASUS Council, outgoing ASUS equity commission deputies, members of the Sustainable Universe Network (SUN), the Queer Solidarity Alliance, and Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP). 

Niddam-Dent and D’Alessandro also presented their entire equity, sustainability, and solidarity pillar to the Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) executive. In this position, Hayes will continue to collaborate with these groups and others throughout the year.

“The creation of this role signals that ASUS is ready to take a leadership role in collaborating with the amazing Queen’s community to create inclusive, concrete environmental action based on scientific and traditional Indigenous knowledge,” Hayes wrote in a statement to The Journal. “I am very honoured and excited for [this] opportunity because it represents that student governments are passionate about solving the climate crisis, while providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all volunteers.”

Hayes will also be responsible for drafting a strategic plan based on an analysis of the Society’s current operations, which should be expected in the 2021 winter term.

“[We] will always hold true to our platform, but when people can improve on the ideas we campaigned on, we get so excited to see what they can achieve and look to support them wherever we can. I couldn’t have imagined all of [Hayes’s] ideas on the campaign trail, but now I can’t conceive of the position without them,” Niddam-Dent wrote.

Other positions created this year are the deputy governance officer (DGOV), the director of training and analytics (DTA), and the director of student affairs research (DSAR).

The incoming DGOV, Clara Civiero, ArtSci ’22, is responsible for improving the operations of ASUS Assembly.

“Assembly can be a powerful vehicle for debate and policy change, but it currently doesn’t reach that potential,” Niddam-Dent wrote. They believe having someone dedicated to improving ASUS’ Assembly will allow them to better represent Arts and Science students.

The incoming DTA, Sonya Patel, ArtSci ’21, is tasked with continuing the recent growth of the ASUS human resources office, while also improving long term student engagement with the Society.

“Not only will the [DTA] assist in ensuring that all volunteers receive adequate and useful training, they will also play an essential role in collecting feedback from those who attend ASUS events, and those who do not,” D’Alessandro wrote in a statement to The Journal. “Data analysis is integral to positive growth and development, especially for ASUS.” 

The incoming (DSAR), Samara Lijam, ArtSci ’22, will support the Society’s executive and other commissioners in representing students on campus by providing them with the tools and strategies to lead data-driven, evidence-backed advocacy at the University.

Calling the list of issues requiring advocacy “enormous,” Niddam-Dent mentioned academic changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate sexual violence prevention and response measures, an ill-structured fall term break, barriers faced by marginalized communities on campus, and financial inaccessibility as some areas the Society has identified need attention. 

“We feel very confident in these individuals. Throughout the application and interview process, they proved to be standout applicants, determined to set the precedent for new positions within ASUS,” D’Alessandro said.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.