Administration cancels Frosh Week house parties for the Class of 2010

SOARB member urges dean and others to re-consider

EngCuts were moved out of leaders’ house and on to campus.
EngCuts were moved out of leaders’ house and on to campus.
David Homuth, ArtSci ’07
David Homuth, ArtSci ’07

Behind the bright lights and loud cheers of another well-run Orientation Week, exists an abandoned event the class of 2010 will not be able to enjoy—house parties.

These were memorable events where frosh met in their leaders’ houses. They were a chance for first-years to get a glimpse of off-campus housing and step outside the Queen’s bubble. This is the first year where frosh will not get to participate in these off-campus parties because of former Dean of Student Affairs, Janice Deakin’s decision to cancel these events. A frosh’s first off-campus gathering will probably be during unofficial, unsanctioned boozefests known as Wail the Gael, Wreck the Freck, Sauce the Boss and many others.

When the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board (SOARB) first met, Deakin attempted to rule the parties unsafe because it brought first-year students away from the safety of campus and into the Ghetto. In late February, the administration said the quality of housing was so sub-standard that new students couldn’t possibly be brought there for their own safety.

This ignores the fact that the rest of us live there for the other 364 days of the year, while the administration does little to improve off-campus living conditions. Except, that is, to refer to the student body as the “Jackass generation,” which was a comment made to The Kingston Whig-Standard by the University official responsible for student-community relations.

After a proposal was drafted in March to establish inspections of houses so that house gatherings could continue, we all left for the summer thinking the issue was resolved—but we were wrong.

Midway through the summer, Deakin unilaterally overstepped her authority and cancelled the house parties without consulting any student responsible for organizing Orientation Week. The reasons she gave for the cancellation concerned insurance, liability, risk management and community relations. These reasons blatantly contradict earlier statements from the University’s insurance provider, CURIE, and the University’s own Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy.

Apart from the EngCut parties, which differ from house parties and are classified as a different event altogether, house parties usually precede an event and are usually finished before 9 p.m. They are not the loud, crazy outings they once were, but this is a belief still held by many in the University.

Deakin explained that it was the University’s decision to sanction off-campus parties that was the problem—not the parties themselves. As the cliché goes, “perception is reality,” but for the University to actually have its decision guided by this cliché is downright ridiculous.

With few students left in town when the decision was made, and the Senate not in session, there was little that could be done to stop this decision. But much can still be done for the years to come.

Under no circumstances should the flagrant overstepping of authority by the dean be ignored—lest we have deans unilaterally making decisions without proper consultation on academic matters, and all university committees replaced by committees of one.

Although the orientation committees should be commended for planning alternative events, made possible by $70,000 in grants from the University, the administration made it clear in a SOARB meeting this past Tuesday that this grant would only be for this year. Thus, the events organized will not be able to continue without a massive increase in the Frosh Week fee. The best solution for all is to bring back house parties for the class of 2011 and ensure that Orientation Week remains a student-run event.

David Homuth is the former Campus Activities Commissioner and is currently a member of SOARB.

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