With St. Patrick’s day coming up, the AMS, City of Kingston, and Bylaw Enforcement are working towards student protection, enforcing COVID-19 guidelines, and preventing negative media attention.
In a statement sent to The Journal, Kyle Compeau, Manager of Bylaw Enforcement, outlined expectations for the upcoming celebration.
“Bylaw Enforcement is working closely with community partners, including Kingston Police and Queen’s University, to address the potential impacts of street parties and other nuisance behaviors on St. Patrick’s Day,” Compeau wrote.
While some COVID-19 guidelines have been lifted, Compeau asked for students to celebrate responsibly to avoid undue stress on emergency services.
“This isn’t just about being responsible; it’s about keeping the entire community safe.”
The University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) will be in effect Mar. 10 to 20. Violations could result in fines up to $2,000.
City Councillor Peter Stroud said it’s important to put residents’ needs first.
“The vast majority of Sydenham residents are well-behaved (including students), in the order of at least 95 per cent I would guess. It is reasonable therefore to assume that large unsanctioned parties are opposed by the majority of Sydenham residents, students included,” Stroud wrote in anemail sent to The Journal.
Stroud also commended the work of student volunteers who have cleaned up after street parties in the past.
“Many of these kind-hearted volunteers were not the ones who left behind such a mess, but nonetheless feel obligated to act in the interest of creating a positive image, and harmony in the district,” he wrote.
“Conversely the negative actions of a select few misbehaving students can have a negative effect.”
Stroud said the media focuses too heavily on negative experiences.
“Kingston is a University town, after all, and many permanent residents, including myself, once attended or worked at Queen’s and so don’t have a problem with their presence 99 per cent of the time.”
To better understand the City’s approach in navigating town-gown relations, Mayor Bryan Paterson said there are “no issues” with gatherings in general, but it’s important for students to follow existing city bylaws.
“Obviously, there will be police presence there to enforce and carry out penalties if needed. It is our hope that students will be respectful, but we will also be prepared if not,” Paterson said in an interview with The Journal.
He added that violations will be handled with a balanced and respectful approach.
AMS Social Issues Commissioner (SIC) Samara Lijiam, and AMS Commissioner of Campus Affairs Anika Chowdhury, discussed the student society’s preparation for St. Patrick’s.
“Our approach is two-fold: we’re going with a party safe initiative as well as ‘Know Your Rights,’” Chowdhury said in an interview with The Journal.
The Party Safe Initiative is a collaboration between the AMS, Student Wellness Services, and DrugSmart Pharmacy to distribute naloxone and party-goer kits, which will be available at Mitchell Hall on Mar. 13 from 2-4 p.m.
“They will also be providing training to ensure that anyone who has it knows how to use it and when to use it,” Chowdhury said.
According to Chowdhury, the AMS is committed to party safe messaging to avoid alcohol overconsumption and undue stress on medical services.
A major priority is ensuring students know their rights and the resources available to them.
“Following [Homecoming] we did a Know Your Rights campaign that gained a lot of traction, and we will be doing that again to make sure that students have necessary knowledge going into the weekend,” Chowdhury said.
Information on the UDSI and what defines a nuisance party will be distributed on the SIC Instagram as well as through pamphlets that will be handed out at the Athletics and Recreational Centre next week.
The data collected by the SIC after homecoming regarding negative student experiences with police is being distributed to relevant organizations.
“We have been in conversation with the university and have a meeting with the chief of police as well to discuss that,” Lijiam said.
“Throughout the year we have been advocating that money not go towards the police but rather towards safer harm reduction resources as police can often make situations more dangerous.”
According to Chowdhury, the AMS is “committed to making student voices heard and that proper action is taken.”
When asked about the AMS data, Paterson said he hopes for more positive relations in the upcoming weeks.
“I think it needs to be a two-way street, you need police to be respectful and also students to be respectful of Bylaw. It’s unfortunate that there were some challenges over Homecoming but there was also some disrespectful behavior towards the police in the fall,” Paterson said.
The AMS is organizing a campus cleanup Mar. 20 open to all students interested in helping.
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