Letters to the Editors

Administration shouldn’t investigate students

Dear Editors:

Re: “AMS condemns University’s keg-party e-mail” (Journal, March 23, 2007).

I am writing with regard to the proceedings of the emergency meeting held by the AMS Assembly on March 21. I was not at the meeting, but I agree with its spirit and intent.

I am surprised that the University would choose to take such an involved role in the alleged activities of students that were occurring off campus. While I would certainly expect any university to be concerned about what occurs on its campus, the administration’s active role in the investigation of the alleged activities goes too far. Queen’s shouldn’t instigate whatever investigations the police choose to pursue, especially if they’re based solely on suspicion. Certainly, to provide a pre-emptive list of addresses for police to investigate goes beyond what the University’s role is and should be.

When I was sitting on the AMS Council at UBC, where I did my undergraduate training, the administration proposed a policy on non-academic discipline that caused considerable concern. The administration wanted to formalize its power to discipline students (for example: suspension, expulsion) over non-academic matters—unlike at Queen’s, non-academic discipline at UBC is not administered by students.

I recognize that Queen’s plays a much larger role in Kingston than UBC does in Vancouver due to its proportionate size; however, I think that it would be a good policy for Queen’s to stop investigating too deeply into what students are doing away from school.

Let me be very clear: those who break the law should be investigated appropriately. But it is not the role of the University to do it. Let the police do their work the way that they would for other citizens and treat students like everyone else.

Ed Cheung
Meds ’10 and Aesculapian Society speaker

MPP Gerretsen deserves Golden Cockroach more than Lam

Dear Editors:

Re: “Second Cockroach for Lam” (Journal, March 16, 2007).

It is humorous but disgraceful for the AMS to award the Golden Cockroach Award to Phil Lam. Indeed, doesn’t the real problem lie with the housing minister, our own Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen and the government in which he serves?

Perhaps, in a move not bursting with creativity, but certainly one ringing with truth, the AMS, with Principal Hitchcock and Mayor Harvey Rosen looking on, could have copied the Parkdale Tenants’ Association and awarded its Golden Cockroach Award to John Gerretsen instead.

Newer, more energy-efficient housing for the expected increased numbers of graduate students, St. Lawrence students and other Queen’s students would do a lot to lower rent in the Ghetto and throughout the downtown core.

For a look at what never was—John Gerretsen receiving his Golden Cockroach Award—please see kcap.tao.ca and look under “Gallery.”

—Dianna K. Goneau Inkster
ArtSci ’72 and Kingston resident

‘Real share’ commerce students pay more for courses

Dear Editors:

Re: “Student contests commerce course fees” (Journal, March 9, 2007).

In spring 2006, I was unfortunate enough to experience the same confusion and frustration as David Giglio did this year. I could not understand why in the world I had to pay double the amount my fellow ArtSci students were paying for a Fine Arts course deemed irrelevant to my degree. I have to wonder what sense there was in being charged almost $2,000 for a course where others were being charged half that, and why it wasn’t made perfectly clear before I entered the course.

This is an effective method of discouraging commerce students from diversifying at a point in time where learning opportunities are potentially endless; even my professor was dumbfounded that this was happening. On what actual basis are we being charged a different fee, apart from for the purpose of “experience”?

It’s a real shame that commerce students are subjected to these fees, unlike applied science students.

“Applied Science Students taking complementary studies courses in the Faculty of Arts and Science in Spring, Spring/Summer or Summer will pay the Arts and Science course fee,” according to the University’s website.

As though $10,000 per year in tuition isn’t enough, we have the so-called privilege of paying $1,800 instead of $900, for the “whole experience of being a commerce student.” Rest assured, my experience would have been the same, if not better, if I had paid less. I sincerely hope we find a way to work around this and create an equal playing field for everyone. It is not fair to restrict anyone from pursuing his or her interests on the basis of money, particularly when others are not subjected to the same rules.

University is an incredible chance for us to benefit from a diverse learning environment before heading out into the real world so please don’t limit our possibilities. After all, I think even the Queen’s School of Business will admit that an accountant who speaks Italian and has a creative thought process will always be one step ahead of an accountant who does not.

Kasia Kmiec
Comm ’08 and Golden Words business manager

Tea Room must ‘stand in solidarity with processes like Fair Trade’

Dear Editors:

Re: Letter, “Tea Room responds to coffee op-ed” (March 23, 2007).

Michele Romanow is right in saying that the Tea Room has a responsibility to prove that a “sustainable business” can work—the fallacy that it cannot, is all too prevalent. Fair Trade, a progressive model of alternative business similar to the Tea Room itself, is also criticized on the basis of unjust fallacies. As Romanow indicates, coffee is currently being overproduced: yet this is neither a result of farmer choice, nor Fair Trade Certification. Most coffee monocrops were initiated as a result of International Monetary Fund structural adjustment policies that required countries to produce certain agricultural goods in exchange for badly needed loans. Similarly, the amount of overhead capital it would take to switch from farming one crop to another is unfathomable for coffee farmers living in unstable economic situations.

Romanow states that “paying a guaranteed fair trade premium … encourages more producers to enter the market.” In reality, it’s existing coffee producers that become Fair Trade Certified; as such, no one new enters the market. Fair Trade isn’t a system designed to distort the market; it’s designed to pay a price per pound that provides economic stability and dignity to producers and allows them the means to control their own livelihoods.

Romanow is correct in saying that family farms would not be certified individually—they are certified as members of the co-operatives that they comprise. Co-operative membership ensures equal responsibility and benefit for all producers and removes vulnerability to exploitation by middlemen, like so many individual families selling into export markets have experienced. Equally imperative to proving the success of its own alternative business model is the necessity for the Tea Room to stand in solidarity with processes like Fair Trade because, fallacies aside, both are committed to the same environmental and social justice aims.

Kelly Bowden and Natalie McClure both ArtSci ’07 and Queen’s Oxfam members

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