Darts & laurels 2014-15


Darts

Admin’s failure to be proactive: The University’s reactive approach to sexual assault, anti-vaccination course material and the inaccessibility of its campus shows a disregard for students’ well-being. It apparently takes public shaming at the national level for Queen’s to take student safety and education quality seriously.

Absent sexual assault policy: Despite hundreds of surveyed students reporting they’d been sexually penetrated without their consent in 2013, the University didn’t begin working towards a coherent policy until late 2014 — after sustained media coverage brought the issue to the forefront.

Anti-vaccination course content: The administration’s dismissal of years’ worth of complaints against Health professor Melody Torcolacci was embarrassing for the University — and the scandal that followed was entirely preventable. Hopefully, this spurs Queen’s to improve its teaching assessment and complaint systems.

Intimidation tactics: The University attempted to silence Adèle Mercier and two other female philosophy professors after several female graduate students approached the professors with legitimate claims of sexism in 2008. This response to gender discrimination is discouraging for women who wish to enter an already male-dominated field.

Secrecy around animal testing: Queen’s could stand to take a page out of McGill and UBC’s books and be forthcoming with basic animal testing information. Proactive dissemination could prevent the further spread of confusion around campus animal testing practices.

Athletics’ media pass denial: Queen’s Athletics denied The Journal its usual allotment of media passes in August because they were upset by a factual article. It was a childish move and demonstrated a lack of respect for the student body, which pays Athletics millions of dollars in mandatory fees each year.

Poor treatment of SHRC: The AMS acted inappropriately when they forced the SHRC to decide their club’s future in a three-day period in March. SHRC and their incoming executive shouldn’t have been forced to scramble because of the AMS’s frantic attempt to rectify insurance issues.

Undemocratic acclamation: The last two years have seen an unfortunate drop in the number of teams running for AMS executive — down to one in 2015. The consequent acclamation of Team CBW omitted student input; a vote of confidence would have allowed the electorate to have their say.

Lack of women in leadership positions: Only 34 per cent of candidates for elected student government positions over the past five years have been women. Student societies and the administration need to address this apparent confidence gap to support women in leadership roles.

Racism towards black students: Overt racism and microaggressive behaviour persisted on campus in 2015. If this continues, it will only further deter visible minorities from applying to Queen’s, where black students made up 2.1 per cent of the undergraduate population in 2013.


Laurels

Student athletes make a difference: Cancer survivor and former Gaels baseball player Alex Mann raised $11,725 for two charities, while the men’s hockey team organized a charity game in support of a student they didn’t even know — the late Carley Allison. Both were among the most admirable acts on campus this year.

Mike Young: The Rector’s willingness to be critical, outspoken, proactive and collaborative has made him strong advocate for students. Young’s dedication to mental health awareness and oft-marginalized topics — such as transgender and Aboriginal issues — sets him apart among student leaders.

ReUnion Street Festival: The event was a successful addition to Homecoming, and the AMS’s continued efforts to make it annual deserve praise. ReUnion was a boon for town-gown relations and deterred students from partying on Aberdeen St., helping Homecoming move away from car flips of yesteryear to a more positive image.

QPOP: The first on-campus music festival was a great addition to student life. The AMS’s event showcased local music acts, while highlighting campus establishments like The Underground, Common Ground, The Grad Club and Clark Hall.

“5-OH and Go Vote”: The Engineering Society’s campaign to drive voters to their winter executive election was well-advertised, and could serve as an effective model for other faculties and societies heading forward.

ArtSci internship program: Spearheaded by ASUS and Career Services, the program will help add practical value to Arts and Science degrees starting in September, and should allow Queen’s to catch up to other Canadian schools’ internship offerings. Kingston rallies around the Islamic Centre after vandalism: A hate crime that was meant to create feelings of alienation had the opposite effect when local residents rallied to support the Muslim community. This solidarity showed the best of Kingston, and that the actions of a few aren’t reflective of the whole.

Men’s rugby three-peats: With a third straight OUA championship under their belt, men’s rugby has proven to be one of Ontario’s strongest athletic programs in any sport. Queen’s Athletics finally recognized their dominance in March, bestowing the squad with the Gaels varsity team of the year award.

Student participation in mayoral election: The AMS encouraged student involvement in the Kingston election by hosting debates on campus and renting buses to transport voters to polling stations, among other initiatives. It demonstrated youth engagement in the wake of the City’s failed attempt to exclude students from its population count.

Media coverage of sexual assault: The Toronto Star and The Journal’s coverage of sexual assault on university campuses affected real change last fall. Tess Klaver — a former Queen’s student and sexual assault survivor who shared her personal story for the Star’s investigation — should be applauded for her bravery.

The Journal Editorial Board

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