This year the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society became the centre of campus-wide controversy, after an offensive comment made by ASUS President Jacob Mantle on Facebook was made public. After an apology and high-tension assemblies, opposing campaigns—both in support of Mantle retaining his position and calling for his resignation—sprouted on campus.
2008 brought with it a world-wide financial crisis, leading to thousands of job losses, plummeting stocks and increased government intervention in the private sphere. It also contributed to the implementation of a 15 per cent budget cut across all departments at Queen’s over the next three years.
The Large Hadron Collider—considered to be the world’s greatest particle physics experiment—successfully circulated its first beam on Sept 10. The Super Collider was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and accelerates bunches of protons, making them collide 30 million times per second, effectively recreating the climate of the universe a billionth of a second after the Big Bang.
In one of the most gruesome crimes of 2008, 22-year-old Tim Maclean was stabbed and decaptiated, apparently at random, by a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus journeying to Winnipeg.
The LGBTQIA community in California faced a civil rights set back this year as the state voted in favour of Proposition 8, revoking the right of gays and lesbians to marry, a right that had been granted to them by state Supreme Court only months earlier.
Cuba’s famous dictator said a permanent “adios” to his position as head of state in 2008, after handing command over to his 78-year-old brother Raul Castro in 2007. The 80-year-old leader had claimed the transfer of power was temporary, but ultimately resigned permanently in light of his physical condition.
Queen’s famous Golden Gaels got short about things this year, changing their name to the simpler “Queen’s Gaels.” Although the name came with a positive (and classy) change in uniforms, many Golden alums and current players are upset about the abandonment of the traditional name, which has been part of the Queen’s legacy since 1947.
Dealing with the press and problems of Homecoming became too much this year, and Principal Tom Williams made the controversial decision to temporarily cancel Queen’s famous Homecoming, replacing it with a “homecoming-style spring reunion,” scheduled for the weekend of May 24.
This year’s implementation of Intergroup Facilitators in residence led to national newspaper and radio coverage for Queen’s, in which the so-called “conversation police” were heavily criticized. Queen’s administration has assured students and alumni that the highly negative coverage was completely sensational and misrepresented the program.
Just months after wrapping on the film that was to showcase his most memorable role, Heath Ledger, Dark Knight star and mega-crush of teens all over the world, was found dead in his apartment of an apparent overdose.
In a brief e-mail in May 2008, Karen Hitchcock, Queen’s first female principal, announced to her students that she would be leaving her position immediately, terminating her employment with the school just over a year before her contract was scheduled to end in June of 2009.
In a country-wide recall, Maple Leaf meat products were pulled off the shelves after a breakout of Listeria infections amongst consumers of products manufactured in a Maple Leaf factory in Toronto. Over 50 cases have been reported in relation to Maple Leaf Foods, and 20 have died from consumption of Maple Leaf lunch meats.
Violence erupted in India in November, as Indian militants carried out a chain of attacks on luxury hotels in Mumbai. At least 195 people were killed, with hundreds of others injured, as gunshots and explosions were heard throughout the city. Indian police officials and British and North American tourists were targeted in the attacks, which lasted nearly three days.
December brought Canadian politics to the world stage as the Liberal Party and the NDP planned to form a coalition government (with the co-operation of the Bloc Quebecois) and subvert current Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Governor General Michaëlle Jean agreed with Harper’s request to prorogue Parliament, giving the Conservatives some much needed time to regroup.
After a dramatic two years, the United States of America decided that yes, they could vote for change. This change came in the shape of President-Elect Barack Obama, the first African-American to lead the nation.
Twenty-three-year-old American Michael Phelps took home a record eight gold medals at this year’s Beijing Olympics, where 29 other world records were set. It was one of the most visible (and controversial) Olympics in recent years, as concerns regarding censorship, air quality, anthem singers and the age of the Chinese gymnasts were raised.
Queen’s University Muslim Students Association launched an anti-Islamophobia campaign in the fall of 2008 in the wake of on-campus incidents of xenophobia, vandalism and several break-ins at their club and prayer space on campus.
It seems the Chinese calendar got it right: 2008 was, for the JDUC at least, most definitely the year of the rat. The critters caused thousands of dollars of damage to the P&CC and the QP after chewing through the drink lines leading to the pub, destroying the expensive printing equipment stored below.
2008 saw a temporary ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which was abandoned after the paramilitary group blamed Israel for not lifting the Gaza Strip blockade, and Israel claimed Hamas had increased rocket fire into Israeli communities along its southern border. Violence related to the conflict has continued in the Gaza Strip into 2009.
The Teaching Assistant and Fellow Associates (TAFA) put a vote to Queen’s TAs and TFs in November of 2008, in an attempt to determine whether or not the majority wanted to unionize, joining the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). The issue was a divisive one, and the vote was close, however the results were inconclusive because there were 93 segregated ballots, the validity of which are currently under examination.
New York governor Eliot Spitzer, whose campaign had been founded on stringent crime policies with special attention paid to prostitution, was found to have spent thousands of dollars on prostitutes. In further American political scandal, Illinois senator Rob Blagojevich is currently under investigation in regards to allegations that he has attempted to sell the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
In October Liberal candidate Peter Milliken became Kingston and the Islands’ Member of Parliament for the seventh time in a row. Milliken has been Kingston’s MP for 20 years
Women in Politics
2008 saw the Green Party’s first appearance in the televised leader’s debate, due in large part to the efforts of tenacious (and well-spoken) party leader Elizabeth May. Further south, Hillary Clinton came close to being the Democratic presidential candidate, while Sarah Palin’s lipstick-wearing pit bull was a polarizing figure and fabulous SNL fodder.
Russian withdrawal from Georgia and the gradual decline of hostilities between all belligerent forces in the 2008 South Ossetia War was largely precipitated by Russian and Georgian forces exchanging prisoners of war on Aug. 19, accompanied by the introduction of a six-point peace plan by French President Nicholas Sarkozy. The conflict sprang from pre-existing tensions between the Russian and Georgian administrations and snowballed into mutual offensives in early August.
The Alma Mater Society found itself in hot water in September, after several boxes of confidential documents containing the financial information and social security numbers of AMS staff members were left unattended in the hallway of the JDUC for an unspecified period of time.
Despite President Mugabe’s long-standing reign in Zimbabwe, he was initially defeated in the country’s 2008 General Election. Mugabe challenged the results and began a military campaign for votes, killing and arresting many without cause. Mugabe was sworn in as president on June 28.
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