GSA & WUSA Donate to Black initiatives

0
Graphic by Taynaya Miranda

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) and the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) donated money to Black initiatives following massive protests across the country. 

On June 3 the GSA pledged a total of $2,000 to broader community initiatives that support Black, Indigenous, and racialized members on and off-campus. 

Specifically, $1,000 was donated to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the other $1,000 was donated to community-based organizations focused on promoting racial equity within the region. 

“One of our political positions is ensuring ethical, academic, employment, and social policies for UWaterloo Graduate Students. As demonstrations in Canada, and around the world,  following the death of George Floyd,  there is systemic racism in many facets of our society—including within Canadian academia,” Naima Samuel, GSA-UW president, and CEO, said.

“The GSA-UW executive team’s budget is set by our Board of Directors. Within our annual budget, a certain amount of funding is allocated to off-campus representation, which was the primary source of funding used for these donations.” Samuel added.

When asked about the internal discussion Samuel elaborated saying, “ We have a diverse executive team, with respect to backgrounds, expertise, strategies, and mindsets, and having strategic discussions on how the GSA-UW can and should support racial equity initiatives was dynamic, even under remote working conditions.” 

In addition, Samuel said that the GSA will be taking measures to continue their support to the movement and for members of the community.

“Financial support for local and international anti-racism initiatives is the GSA-UW’s first step towards supporting broader equity programs… the GSA-UW executive team is formalizing a new organizational layout to expand its team, which will include employment opportunities for a Director of Equity and a Director of Community Development.” Samuel said

“We will also be working to ensure that our own internal development and governance models are also anti-racist, as there these issues need to be dealt with at all levels, both internally and externally,”

WUSA pledged a donation of $10,000 on June 8 to support student clubs and services, including AVP Equity and various student groups such as  NASBE (National Society of Black Engineers) RAISE(Racial Advocacy for Inclusion Solidarity and Equity), UWASA (University of Waterloo African Students Association), UWACS, QTPOC KW (monthly event organization for LGBTQI and BIPOC people), and BASE (Black Association for Student Expression)

“We heard the calls of our students online asking for more advocacy support. In consultation with our AVP Equity, we made the decision to allocate one-time funding for our services and clubs supporting Black students. We hope to continue to support equity-seeking clubs and services by creating processes for access to money for equity purposes moving forward,” Abigail Simpson, a WUSA executive said. 

When asked about their budget WUSA explained how the money was approved for the donation.

“The Budget and Appropriations Committee approved money from the Student Life Endowment Fund. We are currently working to determine the best way to get this funding to students,” Simpson said. 

Additionally, WUSA said it will be hiring an external consultant to help with correcting equity issues as well as policies.

“We are creating a hiring panel to review the selected firms. The external consultant will review our organization. The point of the consultation is to allow an outside eye to review our organization to make changes. We will use those recommendations to take action,” 

“All members of WUSA consulted on this project agreed this was the proper step to make swift and sustained action to support our student leaders,” Simpson added.

Both organizations said they recognize the racism and inequity in the community and said they are standing in solidarity with those impacted. As the GSA and WUSA move forward, they said they will be working towards providing more support as well as making changes internally and externally in recognition of the movement.