There is a World Outside of Queen’s Law
There is a world outside of the walls of Macdonald Hall and the familiar embrace of Queen’s Law’s clubs and committees. By stepping out onto Union Street, traveling a hundred meters and crossing through a treacherous intersection (now a scramble crosswalk, fancy) you will find yourself in the JDUC and standing outside the offices of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS).
As you read this, you are probably thinking, “I have never been to this place—why does it even matter?” Well, it matters because this is where much of your student governance happens.
Of course, this is all abstract to the average law student. Between the numerous clubs, guest speakers, professional development sessions, and the great projects led by the fine folks of the LSS, there is so much going on in the Queen’s Law community that the average student never really has to leave the law school. However, I am going to suggest the almost unthinkable and say that you should look into the SGPS.
Working over the summer with the Society, I developed my understanding of human resources practices and organizational policies, and I also applied some of the law I learned in 1L.
I chaired the Human Resources Standing Committee tasked with investigating SGPS HR policies and procedures, and I created a report of recommendations to improve employee relations. I also sit on the board of directors for the Graduate Club and The Queen’s Journal.
As someone who went into law from an arts degree, these experiences have been invaluable opportunities to learn about organizational practices and realities. It has been a fun experience, I have been able to make some great new friends, and you would be absolutely right if you guessed that it was all going onto my resume (every little bit counts when it comes to OCI season).
So what is the SGPS? It’s a group that works to represent graduate and professional student interests to a range of university bodies. The various university graduate departments and faculties each elect a set number of representatives in proportion to their population, and these individuals in turn sit on the SGPS Council and vote on the function of the Society. Council meets monthly to vote on new motions, receive reports from SGPS staff, and generally to address the latest happenings on the Queen’s campus.
On a practical level the SGPS is also the society that administers the health and dental plan, provides emergency and dental bursaries to students in financial need, and also grants money to student clubs and events.
Every year the QL community elects voting representatives to the SGPS Council, and it also votes in the SGPS general election to select the next executive and decide new fees and issues. In addition, the SGPS hires commissioners, coordinators, and researchers for specific projects that it aims to tackle.
The responsibilities of these positions vary, but they all share a few perks in common. First, they give you an opportunity to get outside of the law bubble and meet master’s students, PhD candidates, and professionals from other fields that you would otherwise never run into at a Smoker or law club. Secondly, these are opportunities to develop your skills in unique ways, and could potentially be very interesting to a future firm or employer.
So stop by the SGPS offices some time or say hello to me in the hallway if you have any questions! There’s more to Queen’s than Macdonald Hall.
Mark Asfar is a contributor to Juris Diction. He is currently in his second year at Queen’s Law and is the SGPS VP Professional.