AMS implements policy changes to Social Issues Commission

Social Issues Commissioner position divided into two

ETC hopes these policy changes will improve equity work on campus and create meaningful change.

After the termination of the Social Issues Commissioner (SIC) in July, the AMS is planning on implementing policy changes throughout the organization. 

The intended policy changes will impact Human Resources (HR) procedures and assess the structure of the SIC in its current form. Additionally, the AMS divided the SIC position into two separate positions focused on internal and external affairs.

READ MORE: AMS terminates Social Issues Commissioner 

In an Aug. 9 email to AMS staff, the executive said they were updating staff about the SIC in the spirit of transparency—going further to update staff on other policy changes. 

When the email was sent, the AMS was soliciting applications for the SIC position, which closed later in the month.

The executive said they would change policies to increase ease of access to policy, updating “out of date” policy, and providing clarification on the progressive discipline system. 

“Discipline was different on the government side. What we’re trying to do with these new policies is to make sure everybody understands where they fall,” Callum Robertson, vice-president (university affairs) said in an interview with The Journal

“I think that it’s always a good thing to have a clear line of authority or in policy, and it can always be made more clear [sic] and accessible.” 

Robertson said he could not confirm if consultation of students working in the AMS was taken into consideration when drafting amendments to the new HR policy, because HR policy falls under the President’s portfolio. Robertson said a follow-up could be provided at a later date.

One of the announcements was Team ETC’s commitment to commissioning a third-party firm to review the Social Issues Commission. ETC said this does not mean the commission was being removed. 

Robertson highlighted part of the inspiration for the review came from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s most recent external equity review—which he sat in on meetings about the importance of external reviews.

The email cited the interconnectedness of the AMS and Queen’s campus as a reason for the need of an external review of the Commission, along with the fear of bias from an internal review. 

“I think it's important for students to understand that a fresh set of eyes can never hurt [...] I strongly believe the AMS needs a fresh set of eyes on how we currently conduct advocacy work,” Robertson said. 

Robertson explained a third-party review will create a data informed way to assess equity. 

“Do employees feel respected and heard? How many members of the organization feel like they receive for their direct report and their employees? Are there microaggressions in policy we don’t see?” Robertson said.  

Robertson said more concrete information would be available on the HR policy and Social Issues Commission review in due time since details are being ironed out. 

On Aug. 30, the AMS posted new job openings for the SIC.

Instead of being one position as posted in the earlier round of hiring in August, the position was divided into two: an Internal and External Social Issues Commissioner. 

Robertson told The Journal via email the change came after internal AMS discussion.

“In previous years, we’ve heard from those holding this position that the number of responsibilities and tasks assigned to them was not sustainable,” Robertson said. 

“Even after expanding the Commission’s leadership team in previous years, we’ve seen the need for real, long-term change within the Commissioner role, where the AMS more adequately addresses the role’s needs.” 

According to Robertson, the changes to the Commissioner’s portfolio came after discussion within the AMS and during AMS Assembly—Robertson said the response to these changes has been a resounding “yes.”

“With the restructuring of the Commission’s leadership, we will maintain a 60 hour per week total for wages, while also dividing labour more equally between the Commission’s leaders.”

“Both roles [Internal and External] will have equal status as AMS Commissioners, and as such will be given the same level of responsibility. The [vice-president (university affairs)] will oversee both roles, and will hold weekly meetings with each separately, as well as having a joint weekly meeting between the two to hear joint concerns.” 

ETC believes this change also increases the number of paid opportunities for students interested in equity work on campus. 

“Students will be able to meet with two individuals with two different lived experiences, leading to a better chance that at least one of the Commissioners understands the experience of the student seeking help,” Robertson said. 

With the changes, ETC hopes the Internal Commissioner will have increased opportunity to engage with internal AMS operations—including services and governance offices.

Robertson finally explained the re-structure means there’s increased funding for more meaningful equity work on campus.  

With files from Sophia Coppolino

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.