Equity and Diversity Referendum fails

A number of law students were surprised to see a referendum fail that would have seen a new Vice-President position added to the Student Law Society (SLS).

Travis Fauteux

News Editor

A number of law students were surprised to see a referendum fail that would have seen a new Vice-President position added to the Student Law Society (SLS).

Third-year law student and SLS Council representative Chris Rudnicki said that the referendum to add a VP Equity and Diversity position to the SLS was shot down “by a substantial margin.”

The referendum included the option of an unelected officer, rather than VP, position.  Rudnicki said that law students were surprisingly uncomfortable with both options.

“I was surprised at the result.  I thought that most people would support either one of the two options,” said Rudnicki.  “I had no idea that this was coming.”

Rudnicki said that he was approached by several students after the vote with suggestions and concerns, but by then it was too late to alter the referendum.  However, he does say there is time to revisit the question.

“This issue is far from dead.  I’ve had discussion with a number of students, after the fact, that voted this down and they have said that a more appropriate option would be to have an ombudsperson that would be independent from the student government,” said Rudnicki.   “That’s something we are looking into now to see if we can make it happen.”

Rudnicki said someone responsible for Equity and Diversity would provide training for clubs organizing events and would work with clubs before, during, and after events to ensure respect among students.

Philip Cumbo, president of the SLS, said the position would be useful, but not necessary.

“In my opinion the role of the ED position would be to promote the values that Windsor Law prides itself upon. The individual who would have taken the position would have been charged with being the liaison between the SLS, the administration, and the students,” said Cumbo.

“They would have been expected to be involved in academic and social orientation of incoming law students as well as continue to host information campaigns throughout the year.”

Rudnicki said the position would directly address problems that other students have brought to his attention.

“We’ve seen equity and diversity issues come up again and again,” said Rudnicki.  “There was an event where people dressed up as people of different cultures; some were dressed as caricatures of South-American culture and some people didn’t take kindly to that.”

Cumbo said Windsor Law already has an Equity and Diversity committee composed of students, faculty, and staff.

“I think that the position would have added to our commitment to equity and diversity, but in no way does the proposal suggest that Windsor Law is lacking in those areas,” said Cumbo.

“The take home is that the students of Windsor Law believe that the SLS has the pieces in place to uphold the values of equity and diversity,” said Cumbo.   “Our students voted and had their voices heard, which cannot be discounted.”

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