Concerned staff and faculty advocate for improved campus security measures

Faculty from 18 departments signed the open letter to Principal Deane

The week began on Sept. 18 With We Believe You day.

Some staff and faculty at Queen’s have raised alarm bells about the University’s response to the hate-motivated stabbing at the University of Waterloo.

Staff and faculty across 18 departments sent an open letter to Principal Patrick Deane, expressing discontent with the University’s security protocols on Aug. 24.

The concerns were raised following the hate-motivated stabbing at the University of Waterloo on June 28.

In the letter, faculty, and staff, who identified themselves as the Faculty and Staff Ad Hoc Committee on Community Safety, asked the University to implement a university-wide plan for responding to hate-based crimes. In an email response dated Aug. 25, which was obtained by The Journal, Principal Deane explained to faculty and staff he takes their concerns “very seriously and work is underway.”

Deane hosted an open meeting for all staff and faculty to discuss the University’s current security and safety plans on Sept. 7. It was announced that Stephanie Simpson, vice-principal (culture, equity, and inclusion), will be implementing the Campus Security and Safety Initiative.

Samantha King, director of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, and an author of the open letter, was disappointed by Deane’s reply. King told The Journal her main grievance with Queen’s response is the absence of explicit acknowledgement the Waterloo attack was a targeted incident against the LGBTQ+ community.

“[The Faculty and Staff Ad Hoc Committee on Community Safety] have been discussing how [Queen’s] can better prepare and prevent similar incidents [to the attack at Waterloo],” King said in an interview with The Journal. “The [Queen’s] administration approach to safety and violence has long been inadequate.”

In a statement to The Journal, Queen’s claimed to have recommended academic units not make course details publicly available. The University is auditing emergency signage and telephone connection in campus buildings and formed an ad hoc committee in June.

According to King, while an ad hoc committee had been formed under the leadership of the Provost, they haven’t been meeting regularly and the removal of identifying information of staff and faculty from online platforms has been applied unevenly among departments.

“There was one [ad hoc committee] meeting at which two members of [the Faculty and Staff Ad Hoc Committee on Community Safety] were summoned, but I don’t think [ad hoc committee meetings] have been regularized,” King said.

The open letter requested the university provide regular, centrally funded, widely advertised, and accessible de-escalation and safety training for all instructors and staff beginning this September.

“Campus Security and Emergency Services (CSES) currently offers de-escalation training to provide employees with the skills to identify, respond to, and verbally de-escalate distress behavior in a safe, hands-off way. The university is exploring ways to expand this training to make it more widely available and accessible,” the University said.

While King has her reservations about the University’s security and safety protocols, she views the dialogue that has emerged since the publication of the open letter as a positive step forward.

“We need to keep pushing [for change]. There are a lot of things that still need to be addressed,” King said.

Tags

open letter, Principal, protocols, security, University

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