AMS releases equity action plan outlining commitments to QTBIPOC students

Commitment follows calls to action from student-led equity groups

The AMS intends to 'heavily' revise equity action plan in winter term
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Following campus-wide calls for support, the AMS committed to combating systemic forms of racism and strengthening support for QTBIPOC students in a new action plan.

The AMS released the Commitment of the Alma Mater Society to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity (EDII) on July 24.

“We started by listening to the voices that called us in, such as [‘Stolen by Smith’] and [‘Erased by FEAS’]. While we had been assessing ways in which we could incorporate further equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity into the AMS, QCRED’s call to action held us accountable and made us realize that it was important to highlight these items to students in order to be transparent,” wrote AMS President Jared den Otter, Vice-President (Operations) Alexandra Samoyloff and Vice-President (University Affairs) Alexia Henriques in a statement to The Journal.

According to the executive, the development of the EDII Commitment Plan process relied on transparency, self-education, and communication.

“We read a report by the Canadian Federation of Students entitled Campus Toolkit for Combatting Anti-Racism,” the executive wrote. “Last Friday, we sent a very rough version of the report to all of our staff, allowing for anonymous feedback. This helped us to assess gaps and effectively communicate the areas in which we can change or revisit to better serve QTBIPOC students.”

READ MORE: Following criticism, AMS & Rector share support for Stolen by Smith account

The Society also provided equity-related clubs with early drafts of the action items, provided avenues for anonymous feedback, and met with the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP) this past week. The executive plans to connect with other student groups in the coming month.

“We also relied on AMS staff to provide feedback [as they] have been very passionate about this process and have introduced many great ideas. We will continue to have these discussions on [the] document as well as other areas for improvement within the AMS related to supporting our QTBIPOC community,” the executive wrote, pointing to a general feedback form the Society has added to its website for all students. 

 The Society said it will be “heavily” revising the document at the start of winter term to update progress and address new challenges.

“It is important to note this is a working document which is not finalized. As we gain more insight and feedback, we will be constantly assessing and updating on our website,” the executive wrote.

The AMS intends to run focus groups once the policy has been finalized and budgets have been approved, with compensation provided to contributing students for time and labour. 

Regarding the quantitative measures the AMS will take to support initiatives like ‘Stolen by Smith,’ the executive said the Society is forming a consultation policy to mend relationships with equity-focused clubs that have historically been excluded from AMS conversations. 

READ MORE: ‘A safe haven’: The impact of Stolen by Smith, as told by QTBIPOC students & faculty

Though the EDII plan was prompted by criticism from QCRED on the Society’s silence about the Instagram account ‘Stolen by Smith,’ the executive said anti-racism initiatives were already in the process of development and were projected to be part of their summer summary.

“[I]t was evident that we needed to be more transparent to our peers that we serve. [In outlining] the areas in which we are working on, it allows our students to hold us accountable to our words, as well as to hold ourselves accountable to our actions,” the executive wrote.

Acknowledging QCRED’s call for monetary support towards QTBIPOC students, the AMS is completing a budget assessment to determine whether there's available funding or the possibility of reallocating resources to compensate student focus groups.

The executive also said the Society is advocating for QTBIPOC labour compensation from the University.

“[Having] met with [Principal Patrick Deane] this past week, we proposed the ability to be able to bring students from outside the AMS into these conversations,” the executive wrote, adding they’re “looking forward” to the next steps taken by the administration. 

“[T]his organization has been historically fueled by reactionary statements and empty promises and will not allow for this further. [We wrote] this document and its yearly revision into policy to hold ourselves as well as future AMS Executive Teams accountable to the QTBIPOC community at Queen’s,” the executive wrote.

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