AMS triples budget to $24 thousand for externally developed equity plan

The AMS has increased the budget for the AMS Equity Plan to around $24,680 — on top of what was originally a $7,500 budget.

According to Cole Evans, AMS president, the extra money will help go toward the external consultant hired to develop the plan.

“Doing more community consultation and other important elements like that are going to, at the end of the day, lead to a better overall product,” said Evans.

Evans said that working with a consultant was something that the AMS felt was needed.

“This is such an important plan that we need to get this right. And the AMS over the past two, three years has had a terrible track record of trying to create something internally.”

The AMS Equity Plan is a project started around the end of the AMS’s 2019 fiscal year and is intended to create a more accessible, accountable and representative society.

Originally headed by Cristina Ilnitchi, former VP external, and Will Shelling, former associate VP external, the AMS developed a request-for-proposal document (RFP) after doing both internal and community consultation. The RFP could then be sent to solicit proposals from equity consultants.

“Now [that] we’ve completed the RFP phase, we are just starting to do the work as far as planning and what the process of creating the equity plan is going to look like,” Evans said.

Colour Connected Against Racism was one of the resource groups originally consulted with during the planning process.

Saad Shoaib, past VP of Colour Connected and current AMS associate VP external, felt that a focus on accessibility as a guiding principle also fit closely with the resource group’s values.

“It’s hard for a regular AMS member to ask students to give consultation on work that is complicated and complex,” said Shoaib. “Therefore, it’s also really important that the AMS does that [so] marginalized students and students in general can also take part in helping the AMS develop wholesome change.”

Shoaib was supportive of the plan’s budget increase.

“Especially with [the] inequities that exist, the most important thing that … the AMS needs to make sure [is] that they are heading towards a more equitable and inclusive future. And ensuring that the investment is increased was really good move in what we believe in,” he said.

Evans said that the plan’s next steps will be creating a steering committee for the project as well as exploring how to keep the community involved.

“The only thing we’re weary of is obviously due to the pandemic … so we’re looking for opportunities in how we can leverage this new virtual era to get really important community feedback on this.”