Club Profile: Queen’s Students for Literacy

While the average student might neglect their 150 pages of assigned readings because of laziness, there are individuals who avoid reading because of a more serious problem—they simply don’t know how.

Queen’s Students for Literacy (QSL) is a non-profit, charitable, student-run organization that actively promotes literacy and a love of learning throughout Kingston.

Kathy Robideau, ArtSci ’05 and student tutor coordinator for QSL, said she is often confronted with students who take their education for granted, including herself.

“I pay so much for my university education and then I’ll skip class and I won’t study as much as I should,” she said. “Being involved in this program has made me realize that education is a precious thing and not everyone has the same opportunities that we as Queen’s students do.”

Part of the national Students for Literacy movement, QSL consists of approximately 150 volunteer tutors who are engaged in one of the organization’s three literacy initiatives.

The Prison Literacy Initiative helps inmates of federal penitentiaries in Kingston with literacy, numeracy and English as a second language. The program consists of 40 volunteers who tutor inmates in one of five prisons in the Kingston area once a week.

“We believe that by helping the inmates to learn and develop a love for learning and better reading and writing skills, they will be less likely to re-offend and get sucked back into the prison system when they are released,” Robideau said.

Read for Fun is another QSL initiative. Volunteers go into schools and libraries to run reading circles and share stories with children of all ages.

A third program, Literacy Outreach, is held at Kingston Interval House, a shelter for women and children in crisis. Volunteers tutor children staying at the shelter.

QSL originated in 1899, when a Queen’s student named Alfred Fitzpatrick challenged students to share their knowledge with workers in local logging camps, rail gangs and mining camps.

More than a hundred years later, Frontier College, the parent organization that Fitzpatrick founded, continues to be driven by the philosophy that literacy is a right for all individuals.

QSL will hold information nights Sept. 29 in Dunning 12, and Sept. 30 in Dunning 27, for those interested in volunteer opportunities.


Regional Coordinators: Carol Blake and Marie Casteller

Club e-mail:


Goal: To promote literacy and lifelong learning in the Kingston community, in particular to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a normal education.

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