Engineering Society starts fundraiser for Black Lives Matter

Executive team makes personal donations after contributions barred by Society policy

The Society intends to examine the policy preventing donations to external entities at a later date.

The Engineering Society (EngSoc) pledged its commitment to the fight against anti-Black racism in a June 9 statementregarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the statement, the EngSoc executive team also announced they had each made personal donations to a Black Lives Matter fundraising campaign organized by the Society.

Unlike other faculty societies, EngSoc was prevented from making a collective donation by its constitution, which restricts the Society from donating operational funds to non-ratified external entities like those listed in the call to action by the Queen’s Black Academic Society (QBAS).

“The intention of [the] EngSoc policy and by-law was not to prevent us from financially supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, but was rather intended to keep the society financially accountable and ensure that the EngSoc budget was used to directly help its student members,” the EngSoc executive team—including President Spencer Lee, Vice-President (Student Affairs) Alex Koch-Fitsialos, and Vice-President (Operations) Ben Zarichny—wrote in a statement to The Journal. 

When the EngSoc Council reconvenes, the Society intends to examine this issue and determine how best to adapt the policies in question. 

The fundraiser will split the donations between the Movement for Black Lives and the National Society of Black Engineers.

At the time of publication, the fundraiser had received $997 in donations and has a target of $3,000. The goal is to raise approximately one dollar for each undergraduate student in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS).

“EngSoc believes that the best route for the Society to take is to implement meaningful changes within our own Society that benefit our students,” the executive team said. “While the GoFundMe is a quantifiable action that could be implemented quickly, the fight against racism in our institution will not be solved in a day.”

In its original statement, the Society said it had allocated parts of its operational budget to funding internal student equity and inclusion initiatives, including a diversity panel.

The three main goals of this initiative include introducing more resources to students, developing proper training for anti-racism within the Society, and creating a platform for students to share their insights and stories. The executive team plans to open this panel to engineering students passionate about achieving these three goals. 

“At the moment, the panel is still in development and its structure is subject to change,” the team wrote. 

The Society also participated in #ShutDownSTEM on June 10. The campaign called for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) communities to halt all usual business activities and take the day to advocate for, and to learn about, Black lives within the industry. 

“This campaign additionally symbolizes the importance for those of us who are not Black, particularly those of us who are white, to engage with eliminating racism,” the team wrote.

The Society suspended all normal operations for the campaign, engaged in educational activities, and planned for initiatives that support its commitment to ending racial discrimination within the Society. They also participated in the town hall run by the FEAS on Zoom.

“Although this was a singular day, the purpose of this campaign is to continue to keep ourselves aware of minority groups within the STEM and Queen’s Engineering communities,” the team. wrote. 

“In our eyes, #ShutDownSTEM was not the culmination of anti-racism efforts, but rather one of the first steps needed to recognize the systemic racism prevalent in our institution and continue towards a diverse and inclusive Society.” 

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