The vote to exclude students from census data has aggravated an already tenuous relationship between Queen’s students and the City of Kingston.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. The Mayor, Kingston City Council, the AMS and Queen’s students have each done their part to make the situation worse.
Removing students from census data has resulted in a realignment which eliminates Sydenham District and greatly reduces the say that Queen’s students have in city politics. The AMS and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students are right to appeal this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. Hopefully the appeal will be successful as the City’s decision seems discriminatory.
While the vast majority of Queen’s students don’t live in Kingston full-time, the actions taken by Kingston’s City Council encourage students to completely disregard their responsibilities to the City of Kingston. If Queen’s students are not treated as a constituency, then how can the city have high expectations regarding student behaviour?
Mayor Mark Gerretsen’s immature exchanges on Twitter have not helped matters. If the mayor wants to reach out to students on social media then he should put his best foot forward.
The mayor’s false assertion that he knew that the current AMS executive didn’t vote in the last municipal election (which he’s since apologized for) is representative of an overall dismissive attitude from the City.
Like City Council, Queen’s students need to redouble their efforts to engage in an active and reciprocal town-gown relationship. While Queen’s students are not a homogenous group, many are fairly apathetic about municipal politics.
In this situation, the AMS is partly responsible for student inaction. Student leadership should have made an issue over council’s efforts to exclude students long before they did. Students count on their representatives to foresee potential conflicts and lobby effectively on their behalf.
With so much at stake, the AMS should have been more proactive, but the overall problem rests with the City leadership’s attitude towards students.
The issue is compounded as student say in municipal politics will be greatly reduced if council gets their way. Nobody likes student apathy, and these boundary changes will surely perpetuate it.
— Journal Editorial Board
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