Passing off the torch: Queen's U Compliments

The founders of Queen’s U Compliments are graduating. With them goes one of the largest and most positive campus movements of past years, but they plan to leave the page in good hands.

Their page started a global trend of spreading positivity and celebrating the beautiful, but often unrecognized, gestures of students and community members on school campuses everywhere.

I spoke with Amanda Smurthwaite, ArtSci ’14, to see what she will miss the most:

Q: What has been your favourite moment running Queen’s U Compliments?

A: One of our favourite messages was from the very beginning, … it might have been October 2012 … It was something like, “I love you more than I like sweet chili heat Doritos,” and it was just so random and it just all struck us as really funny.

Another one we really loved was a compliment that was sent in for Vicky Andrews, who is one of the … ConEd [administrators], and she is a wonderful person. And [that status] got hundreds and hundreds of likes and comments and … shares. She actually has Queen’s U Compliments as well on Facebook so she got to give feedback on it as well… It was really interesting to see the ConEd community come together like that to support her…

We’ve also had some really great compliments… for the woman who works at the cash register in Botterell Hall in the cafeteria... I like that the Queen’s students have decided to kind of give back and recognize not only students, but faculty and staff that work at Queen’s.

Q: I know Dear Stauffer Friends remained anonymous throughout their whole time at Queen’s. Why did you choose not to remain anonymous, and have you seen any effects from that?

A: It was something the four of us discussed for quite a while, especially once we got requests for interviews. It became a real problem to stay completely anonymous … Our names aren’t directly on the page … other than being mentioned in interviews… It was a difficult decision to make because we didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the movement. It’s not something that was ever about us or was for any self-gratifying needs.

Q: How did you go about choosing who would continue running Queen’s U Compliments?

A: Three out of the four of us who run the page right now are concurrent education students so we thought it would be appropriate to pass it onto other concurrent education students. Both of the people we chose are very active not only in the ConEd and with different aspects of say orientation week … but they’re also very big parts of AMS and the AMS services as well. They do get to meet a lot of different people and … they have great attitudes. They’re not only dedicated students, but they’re really dedicated to the university, so we thought they would be a great fit for the kind of transition year to see if we could keep it going.

It’s not active this year as it was last year, but they are definitely going to be great advocates for seeing either maintaining [the page] as it is or seeing it progress into something a little more different under their supervision.

Q: What’s your most memorable experience or opportunity that came out of founding Queen’s U Compliments?

A: We were actually featured in an article in Time Magazine. It wasn’t in print; it was online, but still to be able to do an interview with a reporter from Time Magazine was really cool and that kind of sparked the huge influx in friends that the page actually got. That was first big interviews that we did, so it was a real learning experience not only for us, because none of us had ever done anything like that before.

We also did an interview with Canada AM. One of the other founders, Rachel Albi, was the one who conducted that interview – which was really bizarre; we never expected it to get that … national recognition.

Q: Was it ever difficult managing the page?

A: Absolutely, especially when it was at its peak … It was roughly two hours a day each [with] the four of us, so it was kind of like … having a full-time job … going to school and keeping up with all the compliments that were coming in. We want to keep on top of them as much as possible because it’s a great tool to not only promote mental health, but as a support system for the students at Queen’s… The highest concentration of compliments always came at the busiest time of the year so in midterm season and at the end of the term… It was certainly a team effort to get through those in the busiest times.

Q: Was it always Queen’s students submitting compliments?

A: We did get the reverse happening where we would get parents and family members and friends from other universities or from back at home who would send us compliments for their loved ones or friends who are at Queen’s.

Q: Reflecting back, do you have any last words?

A: It was really amazing to see how it took off … and it was really inspiring to see how Queen’s students responded to what was being posted and how willing people were to send in and 99 per cent of the time they were really genuine, beautiful compliments. You obviously get ones that are a little questionable. We didn’t post those.

The community at Queen’s … was really amazing to see through social media – which can have a lot of negative connotations to it. The movement itself, to see it cascade out beyond Queen’s and across the Canada and the US and to different locations around the world was really amazing to be a part of.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For more information about Queen’s U Compliments, please visit:

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