Over the course of my three-year involvement with First Year Not in Residence Students (FYNIRS), I have witnessed or heard of many cases of negligence and mistreatment which have prevented or hurt FYNIRS’ ability to fulfill its mandate. Often this mistreatment makes our frosh feel marginalized, unsupported, unwanted or outright oppressed.
Orientation 2011 was no exception. During the Queen’s Rally, FYNIRS was allocated the worst ‘seating’ (actually, we had to stand). It was impossible to see the gym floor. Our frosh had to wait for a half-hour while a long line of residence students were seated in the gym. Unlike the residences, FYNIRS requested to be included in this event.
We were eventually able to sit on the gym floor. I was informed by an event organizer that this was only because a sufficient number of residence students chose not to attend. Although we understand that there is not an indoor space on campus that can fit the entire new class, this only reinforced our feeling of marginalization.
In previous orientation weeks, we have been placed in MacGillivray-Brown hall, a building without wheelchair accessibility, that was not cleaned and whose stage was littered with broken glass, jagged metal, garbage, discarded electronics and boards with nails. This was an unsightly and outright dangerous place to introduce people to Queen’s.
FYNIRS operates a social lounge year round, where off-campus students can feel at home, socialize and eat lunch. This was formerly located in that same Mac-Brown hall until a flood and subsequent mould infestation forced us into relocating. Our new space in the JDUC can fit only 11 people under fire code, while we potentially have 400 new students using our service, let alone members in upper years. We only very recently were able to acquire new equipment for this lounge because of lack of funding. Much of our former equipment was either donated by members or scrounged off the street. We only this year have a regular revenue stream to maintain and improve our lounge service. We learned this summer through the Campus Activities Commission that its predecessor had received an allocation for FYNIRS, simply didn’t make us aware of this funding from Student Affairs, then funneled that funding into other committees.
Thankfully, this year our situation has been improving. We now have regular funding for orientation, year events and the lounge. We also have, for the first time, a mailing list of every new first-year student living off campus.
However these improvements have been irregular and won only by the hard-fought work of volunteers and proactive AMS officials. Besides these positive events, the conduct of the AMS and Queen’s has placed FYNIRS last on the priority list. The message being sent to FYNIRS volunteers and frosh is that residence is simply better, and that those who do not live there are not wanted. We in FYNIRS try to fight this message, which we know is untrue. However without adequate support we cannot give new students outside of residence the welcome they deserve.
FYNIRS needs to be reviewed and reinvigorated. It needs to be given respect, funding and a proper space.
FYNIRS internal communications executive
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