Community relations projects receive funding

The organizers of a symposium on Queen’s identity have received $2,000 from the University to help fund the project.
The organizers of a symposium on Queen’s identity have received $2,000 from the University to help fund the project.
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Thanks to $13,600 in funds from the University, four groups of students are gearing up to improve student-community relations. A radio documentary, a student symposium, Ghetto landscaping and publicizing student pride are all on the agenda.

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane, who recently announced the recipients of grants from the Student Community Relations and Civic Responsibility Fund, said there’s a need for strategies to avoid a repetition of the past year’s unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party and shift the negative representation of Queen’s students in the media.

“The purpose of the fund is to provide an opportunity for creativity amongst the students, partly in regards to Aberdeen,” he said. “A lot of good work students do has been obscured [due to bad press].”

A panel that included Deane, interim Dean of Student Affairs Janice Deakin and Senior Associate in the Office of the Vice-Principal (Academic) Karilene Montgomery selected the four projects, after reviewing the proposals submitted and conducting interviews with the students involved.

Each project focuses on a different aspect of student life. Frances Darwin, ArtSci ’06, is part of a committee proposing a student symposium to discuss how Queen’s students define themselves. This would address particularly, but not exclusively, the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party. The symposium is expected to be held between Orientation Week and Homecoming of next year, and will include a documentary as well as a discussion of topics relating to the identity of Queen’s students and diversity on campus.

“[Students] are still not treated as adults. We need to start turning that around,” Darwin said. “It’s about understanding different perspectives and, at the core, it’s about respect.”

Darwin said the symposium committee is currently looking for student volunteers for the summer.

The project, projected to cost around $5,500, received around $2,000 from the fund. Darwin said the rest of the funds have already been acquired from other sources.

Edward Rothschild, Sci ’07, and Ryan Moore, a master’s student in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, proposed a landscaping project called “Greening the Ghetto.” The project will involve minor streetscape improvements including planting trees.

“The idea behind the project is to tie the students to the land,” Rothschild said. “People will be working hand in hand. It’s important for students to be stewards of their own identity.

“I personally would like to see Aberdeen get some trees.”

Rothschild said applications for a summer student position to liaise with the School of Urban and Regional Planning, as well as other associations in the community, are currently being accepted.

The third project being funded is a radio documentary created by David Hamilton, ArtSci ’06. The documentary is about student alcohol use and abuse on the Queen’s campus. Hamilton said he wants to air it on campus radio and make it available online.

“[The documentary] will hopefully have an impact on making students think more about their role in the city and be more conscious about their role in the community,” he said. “With the Aberdeen Street incident, I don’t think a lot of people realized the impact of their actions.”

The final project funded by the initiative is the “Student Village” Awareness Campaign. Its organizer, Jennifer Vu, Comm ’07, told the Journal in an e-mail that the project plans to raise awareness through publicity on campus in order to encourage a change in the state of the residential area at Queen’s.

Vu said the campaign has already advertised extensively and sold pins with slogans such as “So Fresh, So Clean!” and “Student Village.” The University’s initiative fund is ongoing, Deane said.

“I’m still entirely open to any project to benefit student life and the students’ relationship with the city,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how large or small [the projects] are. If they change people’s attitudes, all the projects are making positive contributions.”

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