SGPS works to get representation for Indigenous graduate students

Society brings back Student Advisors program

The SGPS vice-president referenced resources available for graduate students.

The Queen’s Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) is committed to finding an Indigenous Student Liaison before the start of the fall semester. 

The society is working to hire new positions to support Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity. To support marginalized students, the SGPS recently established an Equity and Diversity Commissioner and International Student Commissioner, who were hired in 2021.

“The idea is [the commissioners] represent distinct groups of students who need either support or who want additional resources. They organize events for those students. They can act as liaisons with community organizations but largely it’s around building activities and engagement,” Devin Fowlie, SGPS vice-president (graduate), said in an interview with The Journal. 

There are 583 self-identifying Indigenous students at Queen’s, according to the University’s latest Enrollment Report. Of those students, 98 are enrolled in graduate programs. 

The SGPS has been accepting applicants since May for the Indigenous Liaison position. It is a salaried position that will work to provide support and advocate for Indigenous graduate students.

“There’s comparatively a lower number of Indigenous students [at Queen’s],” Fowlie said. 

“It can be difficult to find someone who has the experiences that will be able to relate to someone and help someone who is Indigenous and help organize events that are going to be meaningful for the community.”

The SGPS has other resources to support graduate students academically and personally. This summer, the SGPS brought back hiring for its Student Advisors program, which offers salaried positions for graduate students. 

“Student advisors help students engage in self-advocacy,” Fowlie said. 

Student advisors support graduate students with everything from navigating grade appeals to answering questions about university policies. They can also  advise students who’ve faced discrimination or harassment.

“It can be daunting [for graduate students] to know where to go in the university to get the resources involved,” Fowlie added. “It can be helpful to have someone to go back to if they have questions.”

The Student Advisors program is a long-standing SGPS initiative. In recent years, it’s been known as the Peer Academic Advisors program because a bulk of its work involves academic issues. 

“If anyone has been having issues and they think an advisor might be someone who is helpful, they should go ahead and reach out,” Fowlie said. “The earlier you reach out about [your] questions the better.”

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