Commerce Society releases updates on EDI action items

ComSoc updates hiring practices ahead of first-year hiring, mandates anti-oppression training

ComSoc is now shifting its focus to longer term EDI goals.
Journal File Photo

Leading into the fall term, the Commerce Society (ComSoc) has updated students on the status of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan.

The plan was released in July amidst continued efforts from whistleblower Instagram account ‘Stolen By Smith’ to uncover systemically oppressive practices within ComSoc. 

According to its executive, ComSoc has made significant progress towards the short, medium, and long-term goals outlined in its EDI Action Plan, including the required submission of an Action Plan and Commitment from every affiliated club and conference to the greater student body.  

“Currently, we are undergoing a thorough evaluation of all ComSoc clubs’ and conferences’ commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity (EDII) to strengthen our progress towards building a safe, inclusive and welcoming for all students,” Michelle Kong, vice-president of student affairs, wrote in a statement to The Journal. 

Kong said they had exceeded all expectations on this project and she’s currently working with the club leaders to finalize and publish their action plans by the end of September. 

“We are also excited about supporting the Smith Black Business Association in the process of ratification,” Kong added. 

ComSoc President Seby Monsalve told The Journal there’s been a significant shift in the First-Year Representative hiring process. He credited a Special General Assembly on Aug. 30 where a motion passed to change the number of positions first-year students can hold within ComSoc. 

“Effective immediately, during the First-Year Representative hiring period, a first-year student may apply for any number of positions, but may only accept a maximum of one position. In years previous, students could accept a maximum of two positions,”      Monsalve wrote.

READ MORE: Instagram removes ‘Smith White Business’ account which claimed to provide safe space for white Commerce students

Monsalve said this shift also presents a unique opportunity for students to engage with other student groups and opportunities outside of ComSoc. 

“We are confident that this change will allow more first-year students to be involved as a first-year representative on one of our 50 executives and create greater accessibility to opportunities within the society,” Monsalve wrote. 

This process was audited by ComSoc’s Talent Strategy Officer to ensure all hiring policies and expectations are met, with hiring probation assigned to Executives who fail to         meet expectations. 

Regarding the implementation of anti-oppression training during the ComSoc hiring process, Monsalve said the Society is partnering with global social enterprise network Like Minded Females Toronto to conduct Anti-Oppression and Inclusive Leadership Training across ComSoc. 

The Society will also be running Hiring Equity Training with Queen's Human Rights and Equity Office.

“Our partnership with Like Minded Females Toronto aims to introduce such inclusion-focused workshops for ComSoc's student leaders to ensure that student hiring is not dominated or, in any way, influenced by discrimination, unfair conscious or unconscious bias, nepotism, bullying, and violence on campus,” Monsalve wrote. 

Monsalve additionally stated that training modules are scheduled prior to First-Year Representative hiring in mid-September. 

ComSoc is also introducing a new code of conduct, which places explicit checks and balances on executive positions and appropriate behaviors, providing corresponding repercussions for any breaches. 

“[This] code of conduct and whistleblower program will work in-sync with our Anti-Oppression and Inclusive Leadership training program to dismantle the systems of oppression, racism, white supremacy, and elitism that exist within ComSoc,” Will Van Vliet, vice-president of student affairs, wrote in a statement to The Journal

READ MORE: Smith Full-time MBA program returns to in-person setting

Van Vliet also said the Society aims to administer training modules to every student holding a ComSoc position. 

“[This] ensures that students are equipped with the knowledge and resources to hold themselves and their peers accountable to the constraints described in the code of conduct,” Van Vliet wrote. 

According to ComSoc, the whistleblower program will be made accessible to students to report violations within the Smith Commerce Society. 

Leading into the upcoming semester, ComSoc is shifting focus to the medium and long-term goals listed in the EDI Action Plan. 

During the upcoming month, two working groups tasked with revitalizing the Society’s code of conduct and human resources policy are slated to begin research on best practices to ensure equity, action, and accessibility. 

According to ComSoc, these task groups will survey other student governments, industry practitioners, institutional players within Queen’s, and students over the course of the following month. 

“Re-writing both policies requires diligent research and planning, but it is our goal to have both published by the end of the fall semester,” the executive wrote. 

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