Darts & laurels 2015-16

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Darts 

Student Constable (StuCons) fee fails: The AMS’s decision to put all student fees through referendum hindered the StuCon fee increase. StuCons are essential to student life, and the fee increase was necessary to meet new provincial standards. However, the AMS failed to acknowledge the issue and instead reacted poorly to The Journal’s criticism of their actions.  

School of Computing faculty dwindling: It’s been a decade since the School of Computing hired a new group of faculty members, despite seven departures since 2007. Computer science is a growing field that should be on the cutting edge, but it’s instead being neglected by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Fall referendum nullified: The most disappointing part of the AMS’s decision to nullify the fall referendum was their lack of transparency. Along with failing to notify constituents, the AMS didn’t provide a reason for the nullification until after the fact. Moreover, the same CEO whose questioned integrity resulted in the nullification was quietly rehired afterwards without an explanation.

Sexual harassment of TAs in Political Studies: If TAs are being sexual harassed and verbally abused, it shouldn’t take an email leak for us to know about it. Mistreatment of students is a community problem that requires an open and transparent reporting mechanism rather than closed door investigations.

The Sleepless Goat closing: When The Sleepless Goat closed the Kingston and Queen’s communities lost a place where everyone was welcome. The unique café with its free warm soup and pay-it-forward board will be missed by many. 

Street harassment in the University District: Street harassment is a normal occurrence, but this year we found that much of what happens is criminal and shouldn’t be tolerated. Calling each other out when we are making other students feel unsafe is a job we have to start taking seriously. 

Absent mental health resources for graduate student: The existence of only one graduate student-specific counsellor is concerning. Considering how vulnerable graduate students are to poor mental health, they deserve more support from their student society and the University. 

Disorder at the Castle: Despite dismissals, resignations and large course amalgamations at the Bader International Study Center, the administration failed to provide a strong plan for the Castle’s future. Just because it’s located on another continent doesn’t mean we can ignore concerns at our other campus.

Principal Daniel Woolf’s email: While students’ behaviour during Frosh Week was reprehensible, Principal Daniel Woolf’s response was entirely unhelpful. Woolf’s email lecture had more the tone of a PR statement made to satisfy external bodies than a constructive approach to Queen’s drinking culture.  

Lack of diversity and equity among faculty: Despite repeatedly acknowledging that diversity and equity are concerns at Queen’s, this year saw lots of lip action but little results. Queen’s “culture of whiteness” isn’t going to change unless we step up to the plate. We need to diversify faculty, courses and students and recognize that diversity can no longer be put on the back burner. 

Laurels 

Arthur MacDonald’s Nobel Prize win: We couldn’t imagine a better public representative for Queen’s than Arthur MacDonald. His ground-breaking work won him a Nobel Prize in Physics this year, and brought a wave of school pride to Queen’s. 

Personal Interest Credit: At a school where people’s grades often scare them from having an education, the introduction of a pass/fail option in Arts and Science is extremely welcome. Thanks to the ASUS President and Vice President, students now have a chance to learn something new without fear.

Edward Snowden talks to students via live feed: The Queen’s International Affairs Association’s persistence paid off when Edward Snowden addressed a packed Grant Hall. The group was remarkably dedicated and created an event where students proved they aren’t as apathetic as we may think when it comes to issues that really matter. 

Students save elderly woman from drowning: It’s not every day you encounter everyday heroes. In early February, a Queen’s student and medical resident rescued an elderly woman after she accidentally drove her car into Elevator Bay. This story of everyday people coming to the aid of strangers in need was heart-warming to say the least.  

Kingston welcoming Syrian refugees: While the refugee crisis brought out some ugliness in North America, genuine kindness and sympathy took action in Kingston and at Queen’s. Numerous groups, including Queen’s Law students, faculty members and Kingston residents should be applauded for offering accommodations, food and support to Syrian refugees. 

Sexual violence policy: The approval of Queen’s sexual assault policy was a long-awaited step forward. While the final result is lacking in many ways, Queen’s is progressing more quickly than many other schools and in the right direction.  

Homecoming and the ReUnion Street Festival: Despite concerns after a rowdy Frosh Week, Homecoming went smoothly this year, no doubt in part due to another successful ReUnion Festival. The work of student volunteers who cleaned up the streets the next day is especially commendable. 

Provincial funding for low income students: Ontario’s plan to offer free tuition for low income families isn’t without its pitfalls, but, it signals an awareness that many find post-secondary education inaccessible. Hopefully this will continue to be a priority for the province in the future. 

Scramble crossing: It’s a small thing, but for a student body made up of mostly pedestrians, the scramble crossing was a flawless addition to our campus. It was also implemented in a timely and efficient manner through cooperation between the city of Kingston and Queen’s. 

AMS’s mental health push: The AMS took a step towards increasing mental health services on campus this year. Along with successfully lobbying Student Wellness Services to extend its hours, the Online Psychology Network was added to the AMS Health Plan. This was an instance of student consultation done right, and shows a positive, practical direction for the AMS. 

Journal Editorial Board 

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