Ross Denny-Jiles, Law’22/MPA’21, is ready for the new academic year as President of the Law Students’ Society (LSS). Re-elected to the position last spring, he is the first person ever to hold the school’s top student government post for two terms. Find out a little more about him and what he has to say to new and returning students in this Q&A.
What do you do in your role as LSS President?
The two primary roles I have are to act as a spokesperson and advocate for the student body and to set the policy agenda of the LSS and supervise its execution. I also represent the student body on the Queen’s Law Faculty Board, the Queen’s Society of Graduate and Professional Students, and the Law Students’ Society of Ontario. Finally, I meet regularly with Dean Mark Walters and the associate and assistant deans to advocate on behalf of students and provide students’ perspectives on various initiatives and plans the faculty is considering.
What do you like best about your role?
I love how much I get to interact with other students. There are so many amazing folks at Queen’s Law doing all sorts of cool things. Being president gives me the opportunity to meet with and hear about a lot of them.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from Vancouver, B.C. I like to cycle, go on long walks, and play boardgames. I spent one year at the University of Southern California as a theatre major before transferring to Quest University Canada where I studied how relative levels of societal equality (or lack thereof) affect how Canadians can interact with their democratic institutions.
How does it feel to be the first-ever student elected to a second term as LSS President?
It’s humbling. I’m grateful to my colleagues for trusting me with a second term and will do my best to live up to the faith they’ve placed in me.
What made you decide to run for LSS President at the end of your first year?
I was really lucky to have the support and mentorship of the previous LSS President, Colette Koopman, Law’20, in my first year. She was endlessly patient with me while I was serving as my year’s 1L Council President. It was her leadership and advocacy on behalf of students that made me appreciate the value of the role and inspired me to run.
What were your greatest challenges as president during the pandemic?
I think the hardest part was how much uncertainty we faced. We started the year with some in-person classes but quickly had to move online. Finding ways to be accessible to the student body and to get a sense of how folks were doing was a continual challenge – especially as we all grew fatigued by how much time we spent on Zoom.
What did you learn last year that you will bring to the role and/or to the LSS executive this year?
The importance of delegation and teamwork. I was really lucky to have an amazing executive team last year: Ronak Patel, Law’21; Joanna Strozak, Law’22; Sara Baxter, Law’22; Jordan Nensi, Law’22; Arina Polyachek, Law’22; and Nadya Gill, Law’22. Without their hard work and dedication, I would not have made it through the year. It took all of us working together to stay connected with students so that we could effectively advocate on their behalf.
What are your plans for this academic year?
The collegial environment at Queen’s Law was one of the main reasons I chose to come here. After a year of online learning, I think it is really important that a concerted effort is made to re-invigorate our community and continue to be a school where everyone feels safe and that they belong. I’m also looking forward to working with the incoming LSS Core: Nivi Srinivasan, Law’23; Zach Cohen, Law’23); Peter Garrett, Law’23; Derek Hooper, Law’23; Genevieve Westrope, Law’23; and Marina Saporito, Law’23. Together, we will focus on improving students’ access to mental health resources and support, incorporating student feedback into the Faculty’s effort at curricular reform, and empowering the student body to make the most of their time at law school.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
I can’t wait to meet all our new (and returning) students! It was hard not being able to meet more of the incoming students last year, so I’m looking forward to the chance to finally meet a lot of them.
What would you like to say to new and returning students as we start the new school year in person?
Welcome and welcome back to Queen’s Law! This year is going to have its challenges. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we will need to be flexible and patient. Remember to be kind to yourselves and to support each other. Last year demonstrated how important friends and community are to our well-being. Get involved, ask for help when you’re uncertain about something, and get enough sleep! At the risk of sounding like a parent, it’s so important to be well rested while at law school.