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Interview With New SLS President Solomon McKenzie

Executives promise efficiency and responsiveness

The Students’ Law Society (SLS) is comprised of three units: Executive Officers, Student Affairs and Governance, and Social (StAG). We sat down with new SLS President Solomon McKenzie (3L) to talk about his plans for each in the upcoming year.

SLS President Solomon McKenzie (3L) smiling.
Photo credit: Raphael Katz

Social plans to increase its efficiency by holding a working retreat early in the semester to deal with funding applications, freeing up more time over the year for more substantive work. They are continuing to plan late-night, alcohol-fuelled social events such as pub nights, the Halloween party, and the Law Ball. In addition, Social is hoping to diversify its programming to potentially include more movie, board game, and trivia nights in the interest of commuters, non-drinkers, and those of us who just want more options.

Solomon admits that addressing policy issues on the StAG side can be a huge and unwieldy task with many focus areas, but identified mental health, lawyer licensing changes, and financial aid as a few key areas. On lawyer licensing, StAG organized last week’s town hall with Treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) and is in the process of writing a formal position paper to the LSO to provide input from law students about their ideal licensing structure.

SLS is also aiming to build its relationships both internally and with other law student groups. Social and StAG will be holding constitutionally required plenary sessions this year that bring together all SLS members and executives from both branches; in previous years these meetings have been overlooked. In addition, SLS is looking to foster a stronger relationship with the Graduate Law Students’ Association (GLSA) in order to provide joint programming and to take advantage of graduate students who are leaders in their respective fields for academic programming and networking opportunities.

Solomon explained some changes to the Equity Officer role, which had previously included a substantial amount of one-on-one support to students seeking accommodation and dealing with equity concerns. Equity Officers will now be focused on policy and on raising equity concerns relating to StAG’s work, while historically the burden of raising these issues has fallen to a handful of particular StAG reps.

Reflecting on the incoming class, Solomon commented that the new 1Ls seemed to have a great sense of community and willingness to support each other. He also noted that this year’s 1L orientation was the first to include a blanket exercise as part of the schedule. Inclusion of the blanket exercise is part of the faculty’s larger commitment to truth and reconciliation.

Despite these moving parts and numerous goals for SLS, Solomon’s most basic foundational promise is that SLS will be as efficient and impactful as possible with its resources. He and other members of SLS have already begun to deliver on this promise by working through the summer to prepare materials and plan to continue working hard on policy and student response throughout the year.

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