AMS executive considering opt-in legal service

President Eric Sikich says service would fight for student rights

The service can aid students when facing housing, employment, and IP issues.
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The AMS executive team wants to propose an opt-in legal service for students through StudentCare, which provides the AMS health and dental plan.

StudentCare brokers mediate between insurance companies and the AMS. Their legal service would give Queen’s students virtual access to lawyers to help resolve disputes regarding housing, employment, and intellectual property—for $33 per student.

The AMS executive team discussed putting the service fee forth in the upcoming winter referendum, but instead decided to focus on other issues, such as the “JDUC renovation fee.”

“I'm passionate about this program because I think it helps students fight for their rights a little bit more. I think students, a lot of the time, are taken advantage of,” AMS President Eric Sikich said in an interview with The Journal.

He hopes to see the service implemented in the future because it will help students understand and evaluate their legal options.

A pool of universities fund StudentCare’s legal services, and when students pay into the program, it contributes to all students who utilize it. The AMS would not incur any costs; it’s based on the enrolment of students.

A few other student societies, including Waterloo’s Undergraduate Student Association and The Post Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University, have a similar legal service.

Student housing issues “sparked” his interest in legal services for Queen’s students, Sikich said. Landlords may bait students with illegal, “inappropriate” clauses and take advantage of students who don’t know their rights, according to Sikich.

“Students should have access to resources to be able to defend themselves in these cases and to understand the law a little bit better, so that they're able to actually fight back,” he said.

Queen’s Legal Aid currently provides students with legal advice from Queen’s Law students, but can’t represent students or formally consult, according to Sikich.

According to Queen’s Legal Aid, they provide representation to clients before “decision makers,” and attend courts and tribunals.

“Queen’s Legal Aid will still be a very valuable resource for students. Whereas if there is a more serious issue that you're dealing with, you're totally able to go to [StudentCare’s] service,” Sikich said.

To get StudentCare’s legal services on the ballot, Sikich said some Queen’s students received a survey to gauge interest.

“We really hope that students say yes, there, this is a valuable program, and there would be interest in this. If that is the case, we'll bring it to the referendum.”

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