Several steps forward, one step back

Moving away from our rowdy reputation

When police have to shut down streets
When police have to shut down streets

I’ve never been so happy to see a downpour on a Saturday night. At that point, I knew we were in the clear.

Over the last few weeks, it’s felt like Kingston has forgotten how far we’ve come. After all, our public perception has drastically changed over the last few years.

But by taking over a street, disrespecting personal property and disregarding police, in a blink our student body went from respected to barbaric in the eyes of the public. Regardless of its inaccuracies or misrepresentations, our perception in this city matters.

Is the damage irreparable? Absolutely not. So how do we move forward? We learn from our mistakes, hold each other accountable and recognize what’s at stake.

Aside from Saturday, that week felt like the middle of July rather than the first week of September. The skies were clear and conditions downright tropical. With the late start to the school year in mind, students were more ready for the week than ever.

A few upper-year houses within a block invite people over. Some are planning on a fun night with friends; others are hoping to fill their wallets.

The streets are bustling. More and more people are showing up. Why wouldn’t they? There’s a strange fulfillment in being a part of something much bigger than yourself.

It’s 1:30 a.m., and you’re walking down the street. At this point, you realize you had more success maneuvering the people traffic of the Sidewalk Sale. I’ll admit, it sounds inconsequential. But when you see crowds forming, take a step back. Literally.

When we take control of a street, things change.

Cars lose access. But who in their right mind would drive on a rowdy night at 1:30 a.m.?

As one student said on Overheard at Queen’s, “My mom was trying to drive my boyfriend home from the hospital where he had been staying with me for hours. He lives on University Ave.” Besides, our perceived relationship with cars on rowdy Saturday nights isn’t exactly amicable. It’s probably best for both of us if we keep our distance.

More importantly, EMTs simply can’t do their job if the streets are filled. When someone blacks out, or worse, ambulances need access. Time is often of the essence. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it could be the difference between life and death.

The rest is common sense. It can go without saying, because the vast majority of us get it. Most of us didn’t do anything wrong. But I challenge you not to play this ‘minority’ card. It’s the easy way out.

Take responsibility for all of those around you. When one person slips, we all slip. It leads to a microscope being placed over our every move. Fair or not, that’s the way it goes. Our history is too rich for Kingston to forget the way it used to be and we shouldn’t expect them to.

It would be naïve of me to say our past ways won’t rear their ugly head somewhere down the road. We’re bound to slip up again. But in the meantime, we’ll continue to build up our positive image.

We’ll continue to devote our time to the community, to contribute around $200 million annually to the local Kingston economy, and provide an influx of young, intellectual talent. And most importantly, we’ll continue to take care of our home.

Remember we have city councilors who know the real ‘us’. They’re the reason we’ll start to see more timely snow removal. They let us hold a giant street festival to celebrate our Queen’s pride. They’re the ones who let us scramble at University Ave. and Union St. so that we can get to class on time.

We have a police force that does a remarkable job of balancing their obligations with our unique needs. Their utmost concern is our safety and well-being.

We also have tens of thousands of alumni who are waiting patiently to come home.

Our perception in this city matters. Everyone is waiting for us to “fuck it up”. Let’s prove them wrong.

Matt Kussin is a fifth-year Life Sciences major and the AMS’s Municipal Affairs Commissioner.


Frosh Week, Homecoming, Town-gown

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