Redefining campus activism

Municipal Affairs Commissioner offers a new take on taking a stand

By getting involved, students better understand what Queen’s is all about.
By getting involved, students better understand what Queen’s is all about.

After the cheering of frosh week has faded and text books have been purchased, most students realize that, for the sake of their sanity, they need a life outside the lecture hall.

Whether you’re more inclined to hit the intramural court or help kids learn to read, finding a place in the Queen’s community is a rewarding experience.

But warm and fuzzy feelings aside, getting involved in a club or committee during your first year can help you burst the residence bubble, putting you in touch with upper-years, campus and Kingston.

Paul Tye, the municipal affairs commissioner, is responsible for providing opportunities for students to get involved in Kingston. He said he deeply regrets that he was not actively involved on campus during his first year.

“There is a false idea that first years will have no spare time and spend every minute in Stauffer,” he said. “This is not only untrue but it unfortunately discourages so many first-years from becoming involved.”

Tye, ArtSci ‘09, said he applied for his position because he saw a need for stronger student citizenship in Kingston.

“This means being an activist for student interests in the community but also facilitating opportunities for students to connect with those around them,” he said.

Tye said activism takes on a new meaning here at Queen’s.

“Activism does not have to be negative or reactionary,” he said. “To me it means being actively engaged in your surroundings. It is formulating an opinion on something or a stance and dedicating yourself to it.”

Of course, Tye said, real activism requires a strong passion for the subject.

Tye witnessed that passion in this year’s AMS executive and said their excitement is the highest he’s ever seen it since starting here at Queen’s.

“[The executive] has a real commitment to changing the AMS, opening it up and making it work for students,” he said.

Due to the diverse options of clubs and organizations, students have a variety of ways to get involved. Even though the committees are only doing small acts, Tye said, their impact is profound.

Kaleidoscope, a committee devoted to helping children read, demonstrates the importance of non-monetary activism.

“The child that [the Queen’s student] is mentoring may finish reading an entire story for the first time and discover the love of reading,” Tye said.

Tye said to understand Queen’s, a person needs to get involved.

—With files from Madison Bettle

Surviving Kingston

Don’t fret frosh. Even if your mother packed like you were getting ready for “Survivor: Kingston” you can actually find all of life’s necessities right here. These are a few suggestions to help you begin discovering all that Kingston has to offer.

Buying books for pleasure

I know you’re thinking you won’t have much free time for unassigned readings, but you never know. Hit up Novel Idea (Princess and Bagot Street). It’s cute, and unlike in a huge chain bookstore, you won’t feel utterly overwhelmed by the merchandise. If you’re a borrower rather than a buyer, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (130 Johnson St.) has all those Harlequin novels you’ll be hard-pressed to find at Stauffer.

Studying off-campus

The Sleepless Goat (91 Princess) has lots of tables, good music, and for the voyeurs among us, no shortage of people to watch while procrastinating. They also boast colossal tea servings and plenty of tasty snacks. When the weather is still nice, the waterfront is also a great place to study. You get the fresh air, the sunshine, a view of the lake and (again for the people-watchers) ample passers-by. You’ll also have a hard time getting wireless, so you’ll be less likely to Facebook-creep your day away.

Pick up some school supplies Unless you’re trying to outfit a classroom, you can probably find almost anything you need at the Used Bookstore in the JDUC. Their selection is modest, but if you don’t want to trek to Staples and only need the basics, you won’t be disappointed.

Get a haircut

Being a student is no excuse to look prehistoric. James Brett Coiffure and Aesthetics (189 Princess) is a beautiful salon with great service. They offer a 10 percent student discount, so bring your Student ID. They also have a West End location in the RioCan Center (764 Gardiners) where you can make a whole day of it by hitting up the mall or Cineplex.

For the guys who feel a salon may be overkill, Dino’s Barber Shop (351 Princess) is the place to go. It’s cheap, stylish and Dino is incredibly entertaining.

Indulge your inner child Minotaur Games and Gifts (165 Princess) is one of the best places to find. It has as an impressive selection of games and toys. Wednesdays and Sundays are game nights, so when the stress of being away from home and school is too much, revert back to childhood and hit up the games. You can also pick up a stuffed-toy in the shape of your favourite STI. Who says learning can’t be fun?

Get your shoes fixed

Tom’s Shoe Repair (167 Wellington—at Brock) is the only shoe repair shop within walking distance of campus. Shoe repair may not be glamorous, but it’ll be a long winter if your snow boots are leaky.

Get a ticket home

Tricolour Express runs every weekend to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, with added stops on holiday weekends. You can get tickets from Destinations (in the JDUC) the week of your trip. If you live outside of one of those three cities and don’t have someone willing to drive there to get you don’t worry. VIA Rail has stations in cities both big and small across Ontario. Get an ISIC card from Destinations and save big on a 6-Pack of tickets. The Kingston VIA Station (1800 John Counter Blvd.) is just a short cab ride away.

Get Food

As far as groceries are concerned, the A&P has jacked up their prices because they know we’re lazy. But, if you’re willing to take a walk, Food Basics (33 Barrack St.) downtown has great prices and a pretty decent selection. If you’re buying produce, the Kingston Farmer’s Market, located at Market Square (Spring, Summer and Fall: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, on King St., behind City Hall) has an amazing selection.

Eat when the Caf is Closed

Sunday night dinners are great times to gather up your floormates and head off-campus for some fine dining. Kingston has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada so you’ve always got tons of options to choose from.

The Kingston Brewing Company (34 Clarence St.) has the most entertaining menu in Kingston. Luckily, their food is as good as their menu is comical. If you like your meals doused with a healthy serving of cheese, or want to torture a lactose-intolerant friend, Frankie Pestos (167 Ontario St.) has been known to serve everything on the menu with a hearty layer of the stuff. Lastly, if you walk by and the lights are on, be sure to stop into Luke’s (264 Princess), and you won’t be disappointed.

Top it off with dessert

Card’s Bakery (304 Bagot, at Princess) has some of the most delicious baked goods in Kingston. You might have a hard time deciding between cupcakes, cookies, and squares. Luckily, you can take home a small tray of assorted goodies and quickly become the most popular person on your floor.

Monique Mongeon

See a need, fill a need

Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC)

If you’re looking to help out with the Kingston community, the MAC offers tons of opportunities. You can look after student housing, participate in city council or read to children after school. You can contact Paul Tye at

Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)

OPIRG is dedicated to research,e ducation, and action inthe public interest. They are mostly a student-funded and student-run but strive to maintain a blance of support from the wider Kingston community. They provide training, support, and opportunities to help people transform social and environmental concerns into effective action. To get involved, check out their website at

Queen’s Students for Literacy

It’s no secret that Kingsston is home to several of Canada’s federal penitentiariesI and if you’re looking to learn more about them, you can always join the Prison Literacy Initative where students donate two hours of their week for six months of the year in one of Kingston’s five penitentiaries.

Queen’s Amnesty International

As a registered member of Amnesty Canada, this group holds weekly meetings and special events that deal with human rights awareness, leter writing and fundraising. If you’re looking to get involved, check out their website at or email them at

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