Something’s gotta give

Monica Heisey
Monica Heisey

This week, Queen’s was featured on the front page of multiple national newspapers.

But were these media outlets praising research successes of our professors or lauding our ranking as one of Canada’s top universities? Sadly not.

This wasn’t a shining moment of PR for our institution, but rather a public airing of our dirty laundry, as the administration’s two controversial moves—the cancellation of Homecoming weekend and the introduction of discourse facilitators in residence—were put to the judgement of the nation.

And the nation wasn’t pleased.

In response to the Homecoming cancellation, an Alumnus commenter on the Journal’s website is forthcoming: “Thankfully I chose to leave Kingston and go to a university that will look good on my resume for graduate studies. ... The university has been taken over by a bunch of spoiled, suburban, American Eagle clad sociopaths.”

This depiction of Queen’s students is not only unflattering but also largely untrue—this commenter obviously isn’t aware of the flashy new Urban Outfitters us sociopaths are frequenting these days—creating a stereotyped image that others will pick up on and accept as the norm.  I have problems with the so-called “conversation police” and agree with the Journal’s editorial regarding the Homecoming cancellation, but I’m not worried about being jumped in the JDUC for using a politically incorrect word or how I’ll be able to assemble 8,000 people on one street using only Facebook and my wits; I’m most worried about what message this kind of publicity sends to alumni, prospective Queen’s students and (more importantly for me) prospective employers or graduate schools.

Though I don’t agree with what has been done, I agree with the feeling behind the action.

Yes, we’ve heard it all before—the thoughtless actions of a few are ruining it for many. But they’re really starting to ruin it. As people start to look upon Queen’s as a school of spoiled, drunken bigots, my own pride in attending this institution has started to falter.

I have come to realize that although I was not directly contributing to the problem, I was allowing the idea that it was a few bad apples ruining things to stop me from doing anything directly to help the Queen’s community turn its problems—and its reputation—around.

Whether we like it or not, our school is being presented in a certain way. While the problems I’ve outlined above are very real, I don’t believe it’s these problems that should define how Queen’s graduates are seen by the rest of Canada and the world.

Queen’s is currently dealing with a long list of problems. Let’s not add “digging our reputation out of the gutter” to that list.

The students I have encountered during my time at Queen’s are so much more capable, intelligent and caring than they’re currently being given credit for.

When it comes to preserving our reputation and helping ensure the future of Queen’s, student apathy has the power to be much more dangerous than a flipped car.

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