AMS condemns University’s keg-party e-mail

Laker disappointed with motion passed at emergency Assembly

The AMS unanimously condemned the University’s collection and sharing of information related to off-campus student activity at an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

The meeting was called after Shelley Aylesworth-Spink, assistant to Dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker sent Judicial Committee Chief Prosecutor Jenn Mansell on March 16 a list of 11 student keg parties planned for St. Patrick’s Day. The e-mail also said the list had been sent to Kingston police.

Mansell responded to the e-mail and then forwarded it to AMS President James Macmillan, who said the e-mail indicated “bad faith” in students.

“It’s not the role of the AMS to go around the student Ghetto to knock on doors and ask them not to throw a party,” he told the . “I think that there still is a lot of confusion about exactly what happened and that was part of our frustration and part of Assembly’s frustration. … It’s important to give students a fair chance before calling the police on them.”

Dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker said Aylesworth-Spink sent the e-mail on his behalf to Mansell because before last year’s Homecoming weekend, Mansell sent a mass e-mail to students reminding them to adhere to liquor laws. Laker said his office received the list from Campus Security earlier that week, and that he had nothing to do with the information-gathering or the forwarding of the list to the police.

“In general I don’t go looking for that kind of information; in fact, that is really not something I am interested in,” he said. “However, because we got the information it occurred to us that if the police or whoever knows [about the parties], it would be much more respectful of the students to let them know about that, rather than waiting.”

In hindsight, however, Laker said sending the e-mail to Mansell may not have been the best idea.

“She was very uncomfortable with that, and in hindsight I understand why she was and I wish instead I had approached the municipal affairs commissioner,” he said. “We didn’t mean to put her in a compromised position, by any means; we were trying to be helpful.

“ … Wouldn’t it be a courtesy to mention to students, ‘Hey, it’s out there you’re having a party’?”

Mansell refused to speak to the , but answered one of the four questions the e-mailed her.

She wrote that the e-mail from the dean’s office should have asked her to send a copy of the Code of Conduct and Ontario’s liquor legislation to the students hosting the parties.

“Rather than sending me a list of possible keggers to be prosecuted in the future, this would have been a proactive approach towards discipline,” her e-mail said.

Laker said he’s disappointed with the emergency assembly’s outcome.

“The information shared with Assembly was very limited to the things that could be portrayed in the most sinister manner,” he said.

Laker said Assembly members weren’t privy to Aylesworth-Spink’s reply to Mansell’s e-mail, in which Aylesworth-Spink expressed dismay for Mansell’s discomfort.

“It was certainly not my intention to place you in any position—ethical or unethical,” the e-mail’s last paragraph reads. “All I know is that when the phone rings and an angry neighbour is on the other end, they expect some response from the University. It seems to me that we need the tools that can help students and permanent residents navigate these rough waters perhaps before they happen.”

Laker said he doesn’t feel the issue was presented to Assembly members in a balanced and fair manner before the motions were voted on.

“To have this assembly meeting called so quickly and only certain information shared makes it very difficult for people to maintain the trust I think we should have.”

Macmillan said he met with council several times since Friday. They came up with the idea to hold an emergency assembly because, he said, students need to know if the University is collecting information about them.

“What if a party happened on the weekend and the police showed up … and a student found out their student government knew the University was targeting them?

“That student wound be rightly angered their representatives didn’t tell them this information.”

Incoming AMS President Kingsley Chak said he agrees with the motions passed.

“James and I had a lot of talks on this throughout, and I’ve had conversations with my council and they all know what’s going on and we feel kind of alarmed and frustrated that the information-gathering has happened,” he said. “But then again, I think it’s been made clear to us that it’s a simple mistake: it’s not the general practice of the University.

“It’s just one mistake that has happened and that in no way should affect the relationship we have with the University next year.”

At Wednesday’s Assembly, Macmillan said it’s probable the information about the parties was found on Facebook, but he can’t be sure.

“The best advice the AMS can give is don’t do anything illegal. If you do plan on doing something illegal, keep it to yourself,” he said. “Students should be wary of any information they put out about themselves in public venues.”

Campus Security Director David Patterson said Campus Security doesn’t actively monitor Facebook.

“However, we have students who bring things to our attention, we have other University employees who may bring various activity that’s occurring in the Queen’s community to our attention and we follow up on that because student safety is always of the utmost importance to us.”

Patterson said it’s not unusual for Campus Security to forward information they receive to the police or to other offices on campus.

“We would let the police know that it’s come to our attention that there could be some keg parties occurring on the weekend and we have staff on and if we can be of assistance to give us a call,” he said. “There’s a variety of offices that Campus Security works with on a daily basis, from the vice-principal’s office to the principal’s office to the dean of student affairs.”

The Motions Passed

That AMS Assembly condemns the following:

1. Recent actions of the dean of Student affairs Office with regard to the collection of information on off-campus student activity where students have a reasonable expectation of privacy;

2. Sharing of this information with Non-Queen’s bodies

That AMS Assembly requests the University take the following actions:

1. Clarify its policy on ‘in loco parentis’ with regard to off-campus
housing areas;

2. Fully disclose all measures currently used to collect information on off-campus student activity, and fully disclose all internal and external parties this information is shared with.

3. Investigate the ramifications that the above activity has for any federal or provincial privacy legislation.

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