SIC announces Equity Grant to compensate students

Grant recognizes students committed to anti-oppression and social justice 

Applications are open until April 16.

The Social Issues Commission (SIC) announced an Equity Grant open to student applicants until April 16. 

According to AMS SIC social media, eligible students may apply to receive compensation for ongoing commitments to anti-oppression and social justice work. 

Social Issues Commissioner Angela Sahi told The Journal that the SIC believes in fair compensation for all student labour, but limited funding resulted in a preference shown for applicants demonstrating financial need. 

“The application offers a space to communicate personal circumstances that might be relevant for our consideration,” Sahi said. 

“Our goal will be to offer [compensation to] as many students as possible for their work.”

The SIC budgeted a total of $20,000 toward all offered grants and bursaries, according to Sahi. This amount is allocated across the Equity Grant, Black History Month Grant, and Robert Sutherland Prize. 

Following a budget review last May, Sahi expressed her disappointment in finding a steady decline of the SIC budget over the past four years. 

“[This left] less and less funding available to allocate towards our committees, educational programming, and grants—all of which are vital to the Commission’s operations and ability to fulfill our mandate,” Sahi said. 

Sahi said she’s worked with the AMS Executive to restore the budget and allocate a substantial portion towards funding that can financially support the work of students and student groups. 

The selection committee varies each year, Sahi said, with current grant applications initially reviewed alongside internal SIC volunteers and additional AMS representatives. 

Sahi said the grant seeks to recognize students who have a stated commitment to anti-oppression and social justice. These commitments include anti- racism efforts; LGBTQ2S+ rights; decolonization; Indigenous solidarity; financial literacy; EDII, cultural & ethnic representation; accessibility; sexual & gender-based violence prevention and support; gender-based advocacy; and food insecurity.  

Regarding the importance of the grant, Sahi said students have been explicitly clear about the need to increase existing and new avenues for financial aid. 

“We also recognize the significant amount of unpaid student labour that the University and student governments rely upon to inform their work,” Sahi said. 

“While Queen’s [Senior Leadership Team] understands the value students bring and have communicated the intention to create more opportunities to compensate students for their labour, we have yet to see any concrete efforts towards completing this goal.”  

According to Sahi, the Equity Grant is expanding to incorporate opportunities to recognize and provide financial support for students engaging in equity, social justice, and anti-oppression work. 

“While the Social Issues Commission stands for fair compensation for all labour, we also recognize the distinct challenges and barriers that accompany anti-racism/anti-oppression work,” she said.  

Sahi said students are dedicating time and effort towards emotionally burdensome and exhaustive work, yet continue to be unrecognized and undervalued. 

“With the drastic increase in mainstream attention on anti-racism and EDII, this year has been especially difficult for student activists who have been called upon to educate and inform their peers while also trying to navigate their own lived experiences,” Sahi explained.

“I want to acknowledge that the Equity Grant does not offer an ongoing initiative that can sustain itself, but rather a short-term method to offer compensation that the University should be supplying.”  

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