As long as the University prioritizes public image over student concerns, its reputation will continue to tarnish.
Throughout the year, Queen’s administration has disregarded opportunities to proactively address student issues — usually until public shaming forces them to act.
In October, The Journal published an investigative feature on sexual assault at Queen’s, followed by an editorial that condemned the University for lacking a specific policy — despite 2.1 per cent of surveyed students in 2013 reporting they were sexually penetrated without their consent.
Principal Woolf responded to the editorial with a 300-word letter to the editor, in which he stated that, “Queen’s takes the issue of sexual assault extremely seriously”.
No changes were made.
A month later, the Toronto Star published an investigative piece on sexual assault at Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Woolf issued a statement, where he said he was “deeply disturbed” to read the Star’s investigation. The University immediately pledged to develop a policy.
The Journal’s story from a month and a half before had included accounts of students sexually assaulted in their own residences.
All we got was a letter.
When it’s simply the well-being of students on the line, the University has been inactive. As soon as Queen’s reputation is thrown into question, it’s a whole other story.
The University’s reactive approach to student concerns was seen again when the anti-vaccination scandal broke in February. Students and medical professionals had complained about professor Melody Torcolacci since 2011, but the administration did nothing until the country was privy to their neglect.
It frightens me that progress only seems to occur in the wake of public shaming, especially when safety and education quality are fundamental concerns.
Queen’s has been riding on the coattails of its reputation for too long. Only when its image is founded on a genuine concern for students will this institution thrive.
Following the sexual assault scandal, surveys and forums were established to consult the community about the development of a policy.
This consultation with students must continue, and we need to fight for it.
We can’t merely sit around in our living rooms complaining about the administration. Queen’s star will only continue to fall until students fight to have our voices heard — and until our school starts to listen.
Anisa is The Journal’s Editorials Editor. She’s a fourth-year English major.
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