New Equity Commissioner Position Created

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Savannah Richardson & Amanda Fitzpatrick
Vice President Student Life
Wed, 04/17/2019 - 15:15

Guest blog by outgoing Vice President Student Life Savannah Richardson and incoming Vice President Student Life Amanda Fitzpatrick.

We're excited to announce that we have created a new Commissioner role to focus on equity, which will begin in spring term 2019.

A part-time student position, this role was created through a collaboration between the outgoing and the incoming Vice President Student Life (VPSL).

The Equity Commissioner is a position that we believe to be greatly needed within the Federation of Students and on our campus.

We hope that by creating this new role we will be able to fill in some of these gaps as well as ensure that equity continues to be a part of the VPSL portfolio for years to come.

For many students at The University of Waterloo, especially those that have worked within or accessed the equity-seeking services on campus, we realize that that there are gaps that both the University and Feds have been unable to fill, and the goal of this position is to address that.

Our equity-seeking services such as The Glow Centre for Sexual & Gender Diversity, Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity, and Equity (RAISE), the Women's Centre, and UW MATES are almost entirely run by volunteers, and are therefore unable to spearhead equity-focused initiatives beyond the needs of their specific service.

This has left us without a group or person to run programing related to addiction and harm reduction, accessibility, or numerous other equity-related needs.

The services’ volunteer nature also makes it difficult for students to implement all of the initiatives they would like on top of the day-to-day tasks of operating a centre/community space.

We hope that by creating this new role we will be able to fill in some of these gaps as well as ensure that equity continues to be a part of the VPSL portfolio for years to come.

As this role will work under the direction of the VPSL, it has the ability to change yearly with new goals and ideas. This position will primarily focus on LGBTQ+ needs, anti-racism, accessibility, sexual violence response and prevention, mental health, Indigenous reconciliation and relationship building, as well as other projects created in conjunction with the VPSL.

Some examples of initiatives this position might work on include:

  • Collaborating with the Equity Office to create and facilitate anti-oppression workshops for incoming coordinators and executives for each of the equity-seeking services.
  • Create a demographic-based mentorship program where young queer, trans, racialized, and otherwise marginalized students can be matched with an upper-year of a similar background so they can receive support and learn about the resources available to them while building a sense of community on campus.
  • Implement a harm reduction strategy on campus to help students talk more openly about drug use as well as its stigma. This can include working with outside organizations such as Sanguen Health Centre to provide Naloxone training on campus as well as raising awareness about the opioid crisis.
  • Build and foster a stronger relationship between Feds and our Indigenous community by working collaboratively with the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and Indigenous Student Association to ensure that any Indigenization efforts accurately reflect the needs of Indigenous undergraduates.

University student unions across Ontario are creating VP positions dedicated to working on equity projects and initiatives. We believe that the creation of this position shows our organization’s commitment to serve, empower, and represent undergraduate students by making sure that equity is never left out of Feds upper-level leadership.