Letters to the editors

Radcliffe in the wrong

Dear Editors,

Re: “Lapse in AMS security” (Journal, Sept. 19, 2008)

Look, accidents happen. I get that. And while I’m inclined to believe that if you’ve been entrusted by about 14,000 students with running their $12 million government, you are not allowed to have any accidents, I’ll admit in the spirit of human error that the severity of the consequences (a couple of slaps on the wrist from the campus media and some student pressure) was, I guess, good enough. Now that it’s all over, however, it’s Talia Radcliffe’s response that I find extremely disturbing.

When Bill Gates gets calls from angry shareholders asking why Vista sucks, he doesn’t patch them through to Joe Programmer. When I get letters from angry readers about a distasteful joke we published, I don’t put them in contact with the writer. Anyone in management knows that when you’re in charge, everything is your fault. This is a responsibility you accept with open arms the day you become The Boss, and one that Talia Radcliffe has apparently forgotten, along with her sense of student empathy.

Considering the vast number of people who access the JDUC each day, I am not convinced the individual who decided to alert the campus media was a student, nor would I use the word “malicious” to describe their actions. Hundreds of students were subject to major breaches of privacy and had their trust in the AMS betrayed. They had a right to know this, and it is only by informing the student body about these things that the AMS will feel pressured to improve their policies. I believe Talia Radcliffe said a “well-intentioned student” would have instead opted to notify the AMS about the boxes. I’d like to point out that he or she did—it just happened to be at the same time as the rest of us, and I see no crime in that.

I think the time she’s pledged to spend avenging a completely anonymous tipster could be better spent meeting with AMS Controller Scott Bell—not to review security policies, but to learn a little about the kind of humility he showed us all last week.

Sam Greer
ArtSci ’10
Editor, Golden Words

Dear Editors,

Re: “Lapse in AMS security” (Journal, Sept. 19, 2008)

By shaming those responsible, the person who reported the files mentioned in Friday’s Journal article did the best thing they could to ensure the safety of students’ personal information. The article states that the boxes were “accidentally left outside the locked storage room.” Exactly which part was the accident? Did Scott Bell not deliberately pick the boxes up from his office and put them down in front of the room and, upon realizing he couldn’t lock them up, just leave them there? The only possible reason I can see for this to happen is that the boxes were heavy and he didn’t want to move them back to his office. That’s not an accident or an oversight; that is negligence. Bell’s confidence that “the information is there” is not reassuring. How could he know exactly what is or isn’t missing from several boxes full of files? He should be worried for his job, but at least he had the decency to apologize for the mistake he made.

Unlike him, the AMS president has come out swinging. I hope that readers see her comments for what they are; see: wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial. Talia Radcliffe’s suggestion that the AMS would even consider using its power (via the Judicial Affairs Office) to punish people who make them look bad is even more concerning. At a time when the University has considered wresting non-academic discipline from the student body to deal with Homecoming-like issues, this mindset discredits the student-run system. If the JAO actually took this on it would be exactly the kind of ammunition the administration would need to prove that the current non-academic discipline system is broken and that the administration should take it from the AMS and the student body. Furthermore, her intent to retaliate makes prescient, and justifies, the whistleblower’s course of action. Pointing fingers at the individual while not mentioning any consideration of disciplinary action for Bell, an employee of 12 years who should know better, suggests that Radcliffe is more interested in saving face than fixing the real problems in the AMS.

Paul Webster
Sci ’06, PhD ’12

Satiric response to Rogers

Dear Editors,

Re: “Students under Surveillance” (Journal, Sept 16, 2008)

I am shocked to learn that photographs of my neighbourhood are being posted on the internet by Mr. Don Rogers (gasp). What happened to the long honored Queen’s tradition of keeping Mom and Dad and future employers out of your little “indiscretions” while spending your way through the hard-earned savings put away for you?

Mr. Rogers and his ilk have the temerity to suggest that the team-building activities of the good, well-bred cadre of young minds are somehow degenerate or inappropriate, while at worst all they are is maybe a little bit illegal. Why, in my day on Aberdeen Street we could throw beer bottles, steal street signs, take over the street, destroy our landlords’ homes and shout obscenities late into the night and no one had even heard of civic responsibility.

What has happened in the meantime to the mean-spirited local residents who would pick on this good-natured fun? Organizing a large party is a far-better preparation for the “real world” than sitting through endless “educational” lectures, labs, tutorials and seminars. After all, today’s Aberdeen Street residents will be movers and shakers, the “leaders of a global society,” ensuring that every corner of the earth is “developed” and wealth extracted for the benefit of the next generation of “Cha Gheil Cha Gheil Cha Geil.” Long may this venerable tradition continue and woe to those who poop on the good souls of the Student Village. Ole Ole Ole Ole through the night and ever more shall be so.

Gerhard Pratt
Sci ’79
former Queen’s professor,
Frontenac Street resident,
Queen’s parent

Rogers’ actions ‘detrimental’

Dear Editors,

Re: “Students under surveillance” (Journal, Sept. 16, 2008)

The following is an excerpt from a letter I sent to Don Rogers in response to your article:

Dear, Mr. Rogers:

As a student at Queen’s University and a Division Street resident I understand and respect what you are trying to do with your saveourneighbourhood.ca campaign. However, I do find your goals and pleas impractical and likely to be detrimental to the overall economy and reputation of the Kingston community. The student district/Ghetto is a unique aspect of the University and is a major reason why Queen’s and Kingston appeals to the students who go here. The alternative would be studying and living in much larger cities like Montreal and Toronto where their living experience would be far more similar to the one they are familiar with at home.

You are more than willing to show garbage on the front lawn of a house the morning after a party and imply that the landlords who pocket upwards of 2,500 dollars a month for a decrepit, poorly structured house are victims of the student’s mayhem. You ask where the fire marshals are. But this is only part of the story.

I ask you to show me a street in the Ghetto that doesn’t have at least a couple houses in violation of a variety of city codes. The student Ghetto, in its current state, is not a place for families—but it is a place for students. Kingston is fortunate in the sense that they have a distinct, small area that is well-known to the other residents of the city where this stuff goes on. The city and its residents are being too hard on Queen’s if they expect the Ghetto district to be as peaceful and as proper as a sleepy suburb. What goes on in the Ghetto is, for a lot of people, part of the modern university experience, not just the Queen’s experience. Queen’s is not at fault; the students are not at fault. This is University life and this is the sacrifice many cities and towns are willing to make in exchange for the huge positive effect 20,000 students have on the economy.

Chris Feniak
ArtSci ’10

SGPS-TAFA relationship misrepresented

Dear Editors,

Re: “TAFA not a voice for TAs, TFs” (Journal, Sept. 19, 2008)

I would like to correct some of the inaccuracies presented in Arash Farzam-Kia’s portrayal of SGPS-TAFA relations.

In May the SGPS Council voted without opposition to endorse TAFA’s unionization drive. This does not mean that Council endorsed unionization. Rather, it means Council supports the right of TAFA—a body composed entirely of SGPS members—to communicate with other SGPS members about such an initiative. The SGPS Council cannot decide whether or not graduate TAs and TFs will be able to bargain collectively with the University. That decision can only be made by the TAs and TFs themselves. It was the intention of the SGPS Council and Executive to ensure that those of our members who wished to obtain information about what was happening could do so directly. Such “support” by the SGPS has come in the form of: a link to the TAFA website for information, listing a few events in SGPS E-Newsletters, distributing some informational pamphlets (paid for by TAFA) and three printed ads (paid for by TAFA). Each of these provides our members with the opportunity to gather more information. The decision on whether or not to form a union will be made by the members.

It is the feeling of the SGPS Council and Executive that such a decision should be an informed decision. To that end I invite Mr. Farzam-Kia and all graduate TAs and TFs to attend the SGPS Town Hall Tuesday, Sept. 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Ellis Auditorium. There they can have their questions answered directly and make up their own minds.

Jeff Welsh
SGPS President, PhD ’10

Low attendance due to alcohol ban, frisking

Dear Editors, Re: “Empty bleachers” (Journal, Sept. 16, 2008)

Why is it that those who lament the lack of student attendance at football games are always those who understand it the least?

Football has never drawn successfully in recent years and the drop in attendance from last year’s match-up against Laurier can be attributed to a good portion of the alumni side of the stadium being unsold due to repairs.

It’s almost shockingly ignorant to praise the addition of concessions and the “VIP Zone” (hardly “countless”) as draws for student attendance when students can’t access those amenities. Alcohol is still banned on the student side; when it wasn’t, attendance was far higher.

Furthermore, every student, prior to entering, has to be frisked by a self-important student constable who obviously adds nothing to the game experience. This is not a requirement of fans on the other side of the stadium.

Did anyone think that perhaps students would be more likely to come to games if they weren’t treated like second-class citizens?

Finally, as much as the idealistic enthusiasts who cover football might want to believe the bands and cheerleaders are “well-choreographed,” no student heads all the way over to West Campus to hear the Bands’ 14th consecutive rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” nor to hear the cheerleaders bellow their “Gaels, get tough, let’s go!” chant that no fan either knows or follows.

Tyler King
Artsci ’09

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