University needs to do more to get rid of move-in signs

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Move-in day signs in the student district have been targeting and intimidating new students for decades. While the slogans written on them have gotten less explicit, they perpetuate the same message: that at Queen’s, sexual harassment is the norm.

The signs are meant to taunt students and their families dropping their children off at school for the first time, some directly addressing parents. Regardless of the intentions of the students making the signs, the outcome of them is that incoming students are made to feel unsafe in the University District. 

Parents dropping their kids off at university often also have the justified concern that their child could be sexually assaulted. The signs feed that fear and taunt parents directly. 

For a group of new students, no matter their gender, arriving at Queen’s and seeing signs like this normalizes sexual harassment at the university. 

Principal Woolf’s continued condemnation of the move-in day signs is important, but it doesn’t reach far enough to make real change. 

The university has kept to what they know on the issue; they decry it as unacceptable but accept it nonetheless. The signs have been going up for decades because, for decades, the only response to them has been a wagging finger. The reach of discipline for student misconduct needs to extend beyond the borders of campus if Queen’s really wants to make a change in behaviour.

Students get the idea of creating their own signs the day they arrive at Queen’s and see that they’re tolerated. The idea is already in new students’ heads that it’s just something Queen’s students do. When they see their friends making signs or not speaking up about them, they’re reminded it’s behaviour that’s considered to be acceptable in the Queen’s community. 

But there’s a population at Queen’s that doesn’t want to see ‘daughter drop off’ signs. Fear of being labelled as “oversensitive” holds them back from saying how they really feel. The protest this year did its job of not only drawing media attention, but alerting the Queen’s community to their presence. It can make all the difference for students to know that they aren’t alone and not all of their peers agree with the status quo.

Traditions can be a wonderful thing at a University; they have the power to bond people together and create positive memories. Unfortunately, they also have the power to do real harm to the students they claim to celebrate.

It’s time for Queen’s to be more discerning of what we allow to represent us, and challenge sexual violence in all of its forms, on and off-campus. 

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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