Letters to the Editors

AMS far from progressive

Dear Editors,

RE: “AMS asks Mercier for retraction” (Journal, Oct. 14, 2005).

After the shameful motion passed by the AMS against Adèle Mercier, Jennifer Holub was quoted in the Journal claiming the AMS needed to act if it is to be “progressive” and if it is to act against “racism.” Now the Journal is forced to account for an “error”; the word was not “racism,” but “ageism.”

So in the context of this campaign that the AMS and others are waging against Adèle Mercier, we are to understand—what? That this whole time we’ve been pursuing Adèle Mercier for discriminating by age! Well, why stop there? The whole institution is ageist! I mean, almost all the students are between the ages of 17 and 23. And have you noticed how old all of our professors are ... ?

But if one reads the transcript of the AMS Assembly minutes of October 6th, it is precisely the charge of “racism” that some want to stick on Adèle Mercier. After the events on Aberdeen, they would like to deflect attention to Adèle Mercier who, amazingly, is being held responsible for “tarnishing the image of the students.” As though the students didn’t do the tarnishing themselves!

But Mercier’s statements were too obviously anti-racist even for the most ambitious sophists to twist. So, if one can’t pin “racism” on her, well, then, it must be “ageism.” This, one can only assume, is the logic being applied: the criticism was lodged against students, and students fall into a certain age range, therefore to criticize a group of students must be “ageist.” (The 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail provides an appropriate and hilarious lampoon of such logic.)

As for being “progressive,” just what precisely has the AMS done that is “progressive?” It was Adèle Mercier, not the AMS, who complained publicly about the image of the black man used in the media which so sorely misrepresented the clearly overwhelmingly white nature of the events on Aberdeen.

Has the AMS passed motions condemning the acts of racial epithets shouted against the police that night? Has the AMS passed a motion condemning the vandalizing of the elderly Chinese couple’s house? Has the AMS passed a motion condemning the truly chilling, and fascist, suggestions that the couple move out?

No, they have, with breathtaking hypocrisy, chosen to attack the person who criticized these appalling actions. Adèle Mercier’s real crime is to have hurt the feelings of some students in the process of telling the truth (though sometimes the facts just hurt no matter how you put them); and her strategic mistake is to have provided some cover for those who prefer scapegoats to truths they would rather not face.

This is nothing but a deeply irrational and Orwellian attack against the voice of criticism; it is “progressive” in the same way that the National Socialists were “socialist.” One can only imagine the nodding heads and the group-think. Some clarification from this most “progressive” student government would be welcome, but it’s lost in a tunnel of defensive self-delusion and intellectual dishonesty.

David Shulman
ArtSci ’06

AAA ruling excessive

Dear Editors,

RE: “JComm rules on AAA case” (Journal, Oct. 18, 2005).

Should one’s punishment for an infraction not fit the crime? On Oct. 1, Andrew Y.C. Kong made a mistake by not reclaiming his student card upon exiting Alfie’s. Despite the fact that JComm heard no evidence that Kong had purposely not retrieved his card due to intoxication, and though no one had seen him consume alcohol, Kong’s All Ages Access privileges were removed, and he will be subject to the Tri-Pub ban upon turning 19.

Yes, Kong made a mistake. But we are all human, and thus all make mistakes. Perhaps Kong was out with friends who were all of age, and therefore forget to get his card back upon leaving since he was the only underage patron in the group. Perhaps he was having so much sober fun that it just slipped his mind. In any case, Kong made a small error, and should therefore be given a small punishment. Having his All Ages Access privileges suspended or terminated is acceptable. However, invoking the Tri-Pub ban penalty in this case is completely unwarranted.

The Tri-Pub ban should be reserved for those who have been caught trying to gain entry to a campus pub with false identification, those who are caught drinking illegally in campus bars, and those who engage in violent or otherwise illegal behaviour. Barring Kong from entering any campus pub for one year is simply not an appropriate punishment. After all, his forgetfulness caused no physical or mental harm to anyone.

Marty Rabinovitch
ArtSci ’06

Cocamo ads objectify women

Dear Editors,

I am writing to express my disappointment at the advertising strategies of The Cocamo clubbing establishment. As a former patron, I was insulted to find the Queen’s student community plastered with offensive posters, depicting a topless girl’s midriff and unbuckled pants. They are part of a marketing strategy that includes encouraging women to wear tube tops and thong underwear. I find this objectification of women to be tasteless and am insulted as a woman and a Queen’s student that The Cocamo believes this type of advertising is both appropriate and a positive way to promote their business. I know I certainly will not be setting foot in The Cocamo anytime soon.

Virginia Emery
ArtSci ’08

Tuition freeze should not end

Dear Editors,

RE: “Tuition fees likely to rise” (Journal, Oct. 14, 2005).

Shiva Mayer’s comments regarding the looming tuition fee increases in Ontario are an insult to his own constituents. The line taken by Mayer, the AMS and OUSA is harmful to student interests. By advocating for a tuition fee increase in line with inflation, Mayer seems to forget that tuition fees increased in Ontario by 195 per cent between 1990 and 2004 (Stats Canada). The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) supports a reduction in tuition fees as a long-term goal and is advocating for an extension of the tuition fee freeze. I invite the AMS to work with us to push for an extension of the tuition fee freeze as opposed to burdening students with higher costs.

Simon J. Kiss
VP External, SGPS

Rise in tuition unnecessary

Dear Editors,

RE: “End to tuition freeze in Ontario inevitable” (Journal, Oct. 14, 2005).

It seems some students are willing to roll over and accept tuition increases as inevitable. An editorial in the last Journal suggested that tuition has to rise—the theory being that tuition has to rise with the cost of living. Firstly, tuition itself doesn’t even need to exist, so the argument that it must necessarily increase is not tenable. Queen’s students should look to norms in Europe, not those in the United States, or even in this country. Around the world there are models for post-secondary education that function well with regulated tuition or no tuition at all.

Even if we were to accept the dubious proposition that tuition is necessary at all, tuition should only increase with the cost of living. The cost of living certainly has not more than doubled within the past decade. Some of us are in faculties where tuition has doubled in this time period, and we are awaiting more yet more increases. In fact, my law tuition may increase from around $9,000 this year to around $13,000 next year if the freeze is lifted. Don’t think Queen’s will refrain from increasing Arts and Science tuition in a similar manner if given the chance.

Stats Canada has recently released a study suggesting that students from the middle class are being squeezed out of professional programs such as medicine, law and dentistry. Soon they will be squeezed out of university altogether. All these promises of increased grants are not going to help students from families with middle incomes. We’re just going to be saddled with more debt.

If only Queen’s students would take the energy evident in the Aberdeen “riot” and put it to productive use, swamping MPs with letters and phone calls and taking to the streets, only with placards not beer bottles.

Chris Davidson
ArtSci ’05, Law ’08

Safety of students and drivers key in jaywalking discussion

Dear Editors,

RE: “Walking on the wild side isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” (Journal, Oct. 14, 2005).

How opportune that Brian Kuchar’s op-ed on being ticketed for jaywalking should appear in the Journal on a day that I am struggling with how best to communicate to Queen’s students the unintended consequences of not observing traffic laws.

This challenge was brought to the fore, as it is many times each year, by a call from a distressed community resident who, while traveling to the emergency department of Kingston General Hospital had to further increase her stress when groups of students—leaving class she suspects—stepped into the road oblivious her vehicle. I don’t mean to imply that every vehicle traveling down University Avenue or Stuart Street is rushing to the side of a critically ill family member but each and every day some of the vehicles are. By observing traffic laws at all time, even when we believe there is no traffic coming (and need I point out that cars move faster than people), we make it possible for all persons—pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized vehicle drivers, and their passengers—to move efficiently and safely. Then, when we collectively have “cleaned our own house” in this regard, we will have not only increased student safety but will also have gained the credibility to take on some of the inconsiderate drivers who travel through campus.

Joan E. Jones
Town-Gown Relations

Alumni wary of future of Homecoming

Dear Editors,

I graduated from Queen’s in 1997. It wasn’t that long ago that I attended similar parties that occurred on Aberdeen Street, however I never experienced the types of acts that were involved.

The issue really at stake is who is to blame for the events. Kingston residents have long been frustrated with Queen’s students. They believe us to be “snobbish, privileged kids” that believe we have the given right to do whatever we want. The events at Homecoming unfortunately did little to discourage that view.

Generally, the problem between the community and the university students is that much of the trouble is brought about by Kingston students stirring things up at Queen’s events. Why are Kingston residents not held responsible for allowing their teenage children to attend parties at Queen’s? I am a parent and when my son reaches the age of 16 I won’t be allowing him to go down to the Ghetto on any weekend, especially Homecoming weekend, because he is not mature enough to deal with what typically happens at a university party.

The above notwithstanding, the AMS and the University need to start exerting some control over what happens during Homecoming. It’s sticky because the Ghetto is not on Queen’s property so it is not under the direct control of the University. However, this event is a tradition that must be protected at all costs. There is nothing like Homecoming for Queen’s alumni and if the current student body continues to jeopardize its future I strongly believe that alumni funding will dry up. Alumni such as myself will not continue to support a university which is continually being branded in the media as a haven for hooligans.

Queen’s students need to look internally and realize that university is supposed to be a fun experience. It’s typically the first time kids have left home to live on their own and rules that used to exist for them have disappeared. Part of being a true Queen’s student is understanding that with that freedom comes the responsibility to uphold the sentiment that Queen’s brings to this community and this country as a whole. Any Queen’s student is lucky to be where they are—thousands of others vied for their spot at that school but they got it and they need to protect it. Continuing to support behaviour such as what was experienced by the Kingston community, just isn’t going to cut it.

I plan on bringing my son to my 10-year reunion in 2007. He will be three years old that year, and I am hopeful that he could be the third generation in my family to attend Queen’s University. Please ensure that there is a Homecoming for me to bring him to.

Sarah Chadwick
PHE ’97, BA ’97

AMS not speaking for all

Dear Editors,

RE: “AMS asks Mercier for retraction” (Journal, Oct. 14, 2005).

I personally believe that while Mercier has waded into dangerous and precarious waters, I do not see her comments as an overtly racial attack. Certainly, a reference to the Hitler youth is controversial and may even be a tad harsh. However, if Mr. Loubert chose to employ critical thinking skills, rather than taking a literal interpretation, he would have noticed that Mercier stated the actions of the Aberdeen revellers as “worthy” of the Hitler youth. This does not dispel that the Hitler Youth were a well organized, indoctrinated assembly of adolescents, however, the inference that Mercier was attempting to draw with her remark, is that at “the drop of a beer keg” these well-educated, supposedly intelligent people discarded their rational faculties of decision-making and chose to embark on a course of action that was not only foolish but dangerous and disrespectful. This is indicative of the actions taken by the German youth, who were led blindly into a horrifying situation. Is it the soundest inference? No—but it’s an inference nonetheless.

Mercier’s description of the students as white and middle-class may have been an over generalization, but things only offend when they maintain an element of truth. Furthermore, for Loubert and AMS President Ethan Rabidoux to state that they speak for the students in voicing their outrage is inaccurate. I am certainly not outraged and unless I was absent, I do not believe a well publicized referendum was conducted to properly asses the student body’s stance on Mercier. Thus, to Loubert and Rabidoux: please do not purport to speak for all students, when clearly you do not.

Jordon Beenen
ArtSci ’06

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