Letters to the Editors

Wrong for AMS to endorse candidates

Dear Editors:

Re: “The Sydenham slight” (Journal, October 31, 2006).

It really disappoints me to read about the AMS executive's decision to endorse Harvey Rosen for mayor and Ed Smith in the ward of Williamsville under the guise of promoting student interest and involvement in municipal politics.

Maybe they are just misguided, but the way I see it, this endorsement will achieve none of their stated goals and does not promote the interests of ordinary Queen's students. In the interest of fairness, why does the AMS not seek to educate students on the positions of all candidates instead of telling them who to vote for? It is fundamentally wrong for the AMS to dictate what kind of vote will best serve the interests of students in the form of such a blanket endorsement.

As the Journal noted in its last editorial, they haven't even done a proper job of making these endorsements. Who will students living in Sydenham Ward vote for if the AMS does not issue a decree as to the "best" candidate in that ward? It reeks of undue process and political hackery.

What's more frustrating is that they have endorsed candidates that are not in the best interests of all students, especially those with a progressive set of social values. Harvey Rosen has not been a friend to the student community, despite his claims that he has. How does building the LVEC arena help Queen's students? It doesn't unless they play for the Frontenacs, who will receive most of the revenue from it instead of community hockey organizations that need it more.

Rosen has refused to invest in new buses, yet continues to invest in innovative technology for transportation such as hovercrafts to move Kingston's population around, as he said in the mayoral debate on Oct. 16.

He has not improved our garbage collection, snowplowing in the ghetto, and he presided over the ridiculous law banning signs on our houses. Rosen is just not right for students. All this really tells me is nothing has changed in the AMS. They still talk the talk of standing up for students’ interests but just can't bring themselves to walk the walk for some reason.

The same way the AMS allowed due process and democracy to be violated in the approval of the Queen's Centre fee without a referendum, this year we've been let down by a deceptive campaign to tell you what your vote should be.

I encourage all students to check out all the candidates themselves, especially the two students running in Sydenham ward.

So far the Journal has been doing a fairly good job of covering this election—keep up the good work.

Chris Horkins
ArtSci ’08 and Queen's New Democrats president

International student status not to blame for Ali’s death

Dear Editors:

Re: "How to Prevent It From Happening Again" (Journal, October 24, 2006).

Although I was relieved that Sukaina's story was being clarified and was reaching more of the Queen's community, I couldn't help but feel upset by the international student angle that was used in this article.

The story seemed to blame Sukaina's status as an international student as one of the major reasons for the miscommunication of her illness, and ultimately, her death. Words like "international" and "different" were constantly contrasted with "Canada" and the "Canadian system."

I would like to point out that institutions such as university and the medical system, is a complicated bureaucracy. Everyone—not just international students and their families—have problems understanding it. Anorexia and depression are also very difficult to comprehend, and I doubt it was “cross-cultural confusion” that stopped Sukaina from going to Health Services. Likely, it was because of her condition that she didn't want help.

I was insulted upon reading Patrick Deane's statement that "not every culture has the same model of late teen self-sufficiency," which seems to assume that in the West, we have students entering university as mature adults who can take care of themselves, whereas people from other cultures can't. Obviously, this is not the case.

In an age when students are getting younger, where the world moves faster and where many students seem to be taking various types of medication, depression is a global pandemic—not just an international student issue. Although I agree with and applaud the University's recommendations, I would hope they be applied to all students and their families.

Frances Darwin
ArtSci '06

Students respond Stauffer’s exam hours

Dear Editors:

Re: “Stauffer plans to extend exam period” (Journal, October 31, 2006).

Twenty-four hour exam access to Stauffer Library will soon be implemented for the first time, following in the footsteps of many other Ontario universities. I believe this change disservices Queen’s students threefold in relation to health, safety and sustainability.

I am hard-pressed to understand the value of a few hours of additional cramming the night before a big exam. Come December, students can attend a Learning Strategies Development course promoting time management during the day, and follow it up with an all-nighter study period. Is this conflicting message acceptable? I’d prefer we practice what we preach—a balance of study and sleep during an already-straining exam period.

Although Walkhome plans to extend its services during exams, how do we now address safe travel to and from campus through the night? Campus Security can only stretch its (limited) resources so thin to deliver tired students home safely, while still addressing campus-wide security—no small feat. Moreover, how will the library address in-house safety issues?

Building security reserves the right to check university ID between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., but will this deter potential threats within the building? Some students have suggested dumping their property at a study space for the duration of exam period, which may prompt increased thefts in an already theft-heavy building. At any time, only one or two security guards are on duty in Stauffer—do we have the infrastructure to deal with another layer of security?

Finally, university campuses, including Queen’s, are awash with talk of sustainability. Actions must meet rhetoric. The same AMS executive who proposed these extended hours hired and paid a sustainability co-ordinator this year to promote such issues on campus. Keeping Stauffer open continuously for a near-month period works against a sustainable campus: lights, electricity, heating, water—the resources required are immense because Stauffer is no small building.

The “other universities do it so Queen’s should too” argument is tired. It’s not our task to uphold an unfeasible status quo. I hope a trial period will demonstrate how limited this proposal is—for the health, safety, and sustainability of Stauffer Library and its patrons.

Maria Pontikis
ArtSci ’08

Dear Editors:

Re: “Stauffer plans to extend exam period” (Journal, October 31, 2006).

On Nov. 27, Stauffer Library will adopt the hours of A&P—open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unlike A&P, Stauffer will not provide half-priced chicken when midnight rolls around. Instead it will provide the opportunity to further poor study habits, free of charge. By allowing such hours, the University is silently endorsing the message that starving your body of sleep in exchange for a few extra hours of cramming is worth it.

I acknowledge that working late at night works well for some—that’s fine. I just don’t understand why those people cannot do so in their own homes, rather than require one of the largest libraries on campus to be open 24 hours a day.

One reason why the AMS proposed the extended library hours was under the logic that students who work late at nights should have a place to study.

Will Stauffer in fact provide such a place, or will it turn into a shanty town? A shanty town where people park themselves at a table, leave their belongings there, and intermittently return to their spot throughout the next day or night.

What might also happen is that pulling an all-nighter will become a social event, further transcending Stauffer from its current quasi-library state into a full-fledged 24-hour lounge for caffeine-juiced students.

Mike Fralick
ArtSci ’08

Same-sex editorial panicked

Dear Editors:

Re: “Separate but not equal” (Journal, October 27, 2006).

I find this edtioral’s panicked tone and its slippery-slope accusations disturbing.

The Title IX law change merely allows "voluntary enrollment" in gender-separated courses, classes, or schools. Do you honestly feel same-sex education is necessarily so damaging that it should be forbidden?

I am sure I am not the only Queen's student to have been educated in a same-sex school. Over my 11-year stay, I don't recall ever being told that I was in any way better, worse, or otherwise "different" from girls in any discipline, and I don't believe anyone felt I was "avoiding my fears." In summary, I have no idea how my experience "encouraged discrimination."

It is well known that on average, boys and girls score differently in certain subjects. These numbers come from co-educated classes, and have little enough to do with gender-intimidation; the young boy who is frightened out of reading by the presence of girls is unlikely to have suddenly discovered his courage in mathematics. Why there are differences continues to be a mystery. I am not going to draw sweeping conclusions about gender-based learning, and neither do the changes to the Title IX law. In your editorial, on the other hand, you seem to blame these differences on socialization and/or intimidation.

How do you know that, and how does that support your stance?

Your editorial makes it sound as if we must throw the two genders together in the classroom to force some kind of character-building experience. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that it works any better—the numbers don’t agree. You're making a value judgment that is really no different from parents looking for a same-sex education.

Alex Davis
MSc ’06

Cuban political prisoners deserve coverage

Dear Editors:

I recently learned of the response received by Ev Gervan, president of the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association, when she submitted a news release to the Journal announcing an event Oct. 28 in Kingston regarding 5 Cuban political prisoners being held, in serious violation of their human rights, in the United States. Ms. Gervan mistakenly received a copy of an e-mail in which the editor of The Journal told his staff, in strong terms, not to write about “these people.” Ms. Gervan has accepted the editor’s apology, but the issue deserves attention.

As someone who thinks “these people” not only newsworthy but an urgent example of the enormous hypocrisy of the “war on terror” affecting us all, I am worried by the unprofessional bias and attitude expressed in the editor’s instructions to his staff. The Queen's community should know that the Journal may be deliberately disallowing reporting about some significant events and issues.

Susan Babbitt
Philosophy professor

Vandalism on campus

Re: “Ramadan banner set on fire in JDUC arson” (Journal, October 31, 2006).

On Oct. 23, a Ramadan banner was set on fire outside the Queen's Muslim Students Associations (QUMSA) club space in the JDUC. While it is unclear at this time if the vandalism was an act of Islamophobia, the location of the incident and timing of the incident—at the end of Ramadan—causes us great concern.

The purpose of the JDUC is to provide a welcoming space to all students, and any act of hatred that occurs within this environment, as within any environment, must not be tolerated.
Although incidents such as this are particularly hurtful to the group in question, they also demean all other social and cultural groups that seek to foster tolerance and understanding on our campus.

The AMS wishes to express its continued support for QUMSA and all Muslim students on campus.

The AMS also encourages any students with specific knowledge of the incident to co-operate with the Kingston police force as they investigate the matter. The Kingston Police can be reached at (613) 549-4660.

Allison Williams
AMS Social Issues Commissioner

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