Student lands highest honour for equity leadership
Erin Smith’s efforts to support inclusive and equitable social environments for her peers have earned her the 2012 Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award.
“For me, equity comes down to making our communities places where everyone can participate and feel they belong. I’ve worked hard to try to make the Law School and Queen’s more equitable places, but everything I have done has been a team effort. We have made progress because the committee members have worked hard with support from the Law School,” says Ms Smith (JD/MBA ’12), who served as a co-commissioner with the Law Students’ Society Equity Committee for the last two years.
Ms Smith started a “sober socializing” program based on the idea of her fellow Equity Co-Commissioner, Kati Aubin (JD ’13). The program is designed to support students from Law who want to host non-alcoholic social events on campus. She also developed an equity survey for students in her faculty that will assist future efforts to increase inclusivity in various campus environments.
In collaboration with the Equity Committee, Ms Smith supported efforts to bring the Positive Space Program into the Law School. The program supports Queen’s community members who wish to make campus environments safe and welcoming for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ms Smith helped raised the visibility of the program among Law students and, after a suggestion from one of her colleagues, George Evans (JD ’13), initiated a special office-hour system in her faculty. It provides informal, peer-to-peer support during dedicated time slots each week and is open to anyone wanting to talk about issues related to gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation.
The Tricolour Award is the highest student honour for valuable and distinguished service to the university in non-athletic, extra-curricular activities.