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Advocacy Coalition hopes to improve communication between students & University administration

Megan Fanjoy
Advocacy Coalition hopes to improve communication between students & University administration

Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) and the Undergraduate Trustee have partnered to form an Advocacy Coalition addressing systemic inequities on Queen’s campus.

After attending the Queen’s Student Diversity Project June event, “Join the Discussion,” QBACC reached out to Undergraduate Trustee Shoshannah Bennett-Dwara to facilitate a consultation process for some of QBACC’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDII) initiatives and discuss the possibility of an advocacy coalition.

“After we watched the Diversity Project’s event, it became really clear to me that for a lot of non-white people at Queen’s, their experience is defined by a feeling like the other,” QBACC Co-President Nick Lorraway said in an interview with The Journal.

QBACC and the Undergraduate Trustee formed the coalition with Queen’s Indian Student Association (QISA), Queen’s Black Pre-Medical Society (QBPMS), Queen’s Women of Colour Collective (QWCC), Queen’s Hallah Group, Queen’s Black Academic Society (QBAS), and Queen’s Student Diversity Project (QSDP).

READ MORE: QBACC to ban police involvement at future events

Bennett-Dwara told The Journal the Coalition hopes to collect opinions and information about issues of shared interest and “lobby and advocate for changes in policy that then best reflect the interests of the QTBIPOC community at Queen’s.”

She emphasized the University has paths of communication in place that students can leverage to share their concerns, but these existing channels also pose a variety of accessibility issues.

“Sometimes there’s a huge barrier to students within Queen’s who are directly experiencing the Queen’s campus culture and everything that comes along with that to getting their message all the way to the highest level of government,” Bennett-Dwara said.

As a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, Bennett-Dwara said her position will enable her to create an effective line of communication between students and University administration.

With this form of communication, she said the Coalition will be able to funnel the concerns of the QTBIPOC community at Queen’s in a more effective manner.

To ensure it’s representing everyone at Queen’s and taking a holistic view, Bennet-Dwara said the Coalition has taken an intersectional approach to its advocacy work.

“The importance of intersectionality can literally not be overlooked in any scenario where you are working on policy and legislation,” she said. “You can’t make effective policy without intersectionality, they literally go hand in hand.”

READ MORE: Board of Trustees clarifies its climate change endorsement

Regarding the types of policy changes they’ll be advocating for in the future, both Bennett-Dwara and Lorraway explained the direction the Coalition takes is up to the member clubs.

“It really depends on the interest and priorities of the group members,” Lorraway said. “We have quite a few ideas we’re interested in pursuing, but at the end of the day it’s going to be the people that make up the committee that will decide what the committee does.”

Bennett-Dwara added that she has mentioned the Advocacy Coalition to some members of the University administration, including the Secretariat, who suggested the group may play a role in the consultation process for the new harassment policy the University is developing.

“Because we are a group of equity seeking students [...] there is also a possibility of us being used as a means of consultation for clubs that are now just starting to enhance their EDII frameworks and mandates,” Bennett-Dwara said.

“We’re just starting up, but I really do see the Coalition as a force to be reckoned with on the Queen’s campus.”

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