Letters to the Editors

Queen’s vs. Kingston content not relevant or informative

Dear Editors,

Re: “Uneasy bedfellows” (Journal, Nov. 16, 2007)

I was disappointed, to say the least, by the content in the Queen’s vs. Kingston issue. While town-gown relations are an important topic, I did not find the articles to be informative or relevant to the Queen’s-Kingston situation. To the contrary, these articles highlighted issues such as property tax payments (granted by the Provincial government to the town) and increasing class sizes (a result of increased university enrollment province-wide). These are wide-ranging issues affecting dozens of other Universities and involving many organizations, yet they are being marketed as direct Queen’s vs. Kingston clashes. But to what point or purpose? The matter of provincial funding is one that city council needs to discuss and lobby for if they wish to see funding increases. The only purpose these public sentiments ever accomplish is to anger residents and students alike with hostile headlines.

I am also dismayed by city council, who seem to be looking to point fingers instead of improving the situation. They have been elected to solve these sorts of issues, yet they continually seek to pass the burden of ‘fixing the situation’ onto students and University staff. Despite their attitude of condescension towards the University, Mayor Harvey Rosen happily suggests that the University should span more of the town to make our resources “more accessible to permanent residents.” Why do I find this suggestion amusing? Simply put, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If the city truly believes that Queen’s is a valuable resource and can benefit the community, they need to be quicker to lend a hand and slower to condemn.

Amicable relations are possible, but it is not a one-way street.

Kimberly Hart
ArtSci ’11

Lack of Arabic course at Queen’s unfortunate but understandable

Dear Editors,

Re: “A Call for Academic Diversity” (Journal, Nov.16, 2007)

It seems like I can’t pick up a copy of the Journal these days without seeing at least one contentious article about diversity. The latest to catch my attention was a rather damning exposition in the Nov. 16 issue on a lack of academic diversity in Queen’s curriculum. According to one student, “a continuation of Eurocentric courses and a lack of more globally reflective courses cannot be separated from the issue of homogeneity on campus.” This student asserts that the Queen’s curriculum doesn’t “reflect the heterogeneity of our current student population, nor our potential student population.” She makes it perfectly clear how angry she is about sacrificing her “competitive edge” in pursuing a graduate degree in the Middle East due to a lack of Arabic proficiency, which she blames on the university—apparently because we do not have a department of Middle Eastern studies.

Now here’s a question: does this student think that a single world culture is more important than the study of people in general? How about a department of anthropology? Queen’s doesn’t have a department for the study of humankind, so why is it such a big surprise that we don’t have a department for the study of the Middle East? The aforementioned student cites a petition with 2,000 signatures in support of an Arabic language course. And as far that goes, well, think about it: just because one signs a petition in support of an Arabic language course and Middle Eastern department doesn’t necessarily mean that one wishes to take a course in Arabic.

And just because the majority of Queen’s students happen to be Caucasian doesn’t mean that we’re “marginalizing” the cultures of international students. I know plenty of international students, and you can bet that they didn’t come to Queen’s so that they could learn about a culture they grew up in and already know everything about. I know that I wouldn’t go to the Shanghai University and call their administration insensitive and backward for not having a department of Canadian Studies.

Now I’m not saying that studying Arabic is a bad thing; however, if this student wants or wanted to study Arabic that badly she should have taken that into account when applying to post-secondary schools. Don’t come to Queen’s, blame the system and force your personal beliefs down the throat of the student body. It would be a problem if they didn’t teach Arabic anywhere in Canada. If studying Arabic was that important, this student should have put herself into an academic environment that allowed her to pursue said desire. Take responsibility for your own actions; don’t blame the administration.

Brendan Ward
ArtSci ’10

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